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Microalgae brought from Antarctica to be tested during Turkiye 1st manned space voyage

May 17, 2023 at 6:03 pm

Scientist is taking samples of microalgae on June 18, 2021 [PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP via Getty Images]

Microalgae, which was collected by Turkish scientists in Antarctica, will be tested during Turkiye’s first manned space voyage, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The Turkish Space Agency (TUA) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkiye (TUBITAK) have announced that the microalgae experiments will be carried out in the 100th year of the Republic of Turkiye.

Speaking to Anadolu, Prof. Dr. Didem Balkanli Ozcimen, a faculty member at the Bioengineering Department of Yildiz Technical University (YTU), said: “Microalgae, which are easy to grow and rich in nutrients, have the potential to contribute to the space mission in many areas, such as increasing the oxygen content in the air and improving air quality, waste treatment as well as being used as food for space travellers.”

Ozcimen said they began polar studies in 2019, and microalgae isolated from the samples brought from Antarctica with the National Antarctic Science Expedition were entered into the gene banks for the first time.

READ: Antarctica becomes laboratory of Turkiye scientists at South Pole

Noting that the conditions closest to the space conditions on Earth are located in Antarctica, she said they have been studying microalgae behaviour in the challenging polar environment for years.

The project emerged with the aim of investigating how microalgae react in harsh space conditions and a zero-gravity environment.

Within the scope of the ALGALSPACE project, for “the first time in the world literature,” a study is being conducted on the use of extreme conditions-resistant microalgae in space, Ozcimen said.

She said that the study on the growth of microalgae in the space environment and how they react during their growth will be observed and the growth data will be compared.

The data to be obtained at the end of the study will also contribute to future studies on long-term space missions, she added.

After the completion of the space mission, analyses will be carried out by the University team on microalgae samples brought from space in the infrastructure of Yildiz Technical University’s Algal Biotechnology and Bioprocess Laboratory.

The study will be a “first”, not only for Turkiye, but also for the whole world, she added.

Ozcimen highlighted the project’s pioneering nature as it involves comparing polar microalgae production using various methods in space and conducting subsequent analysis on Earth, alongside temperate microalgae.

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