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Volunteers in Lunar Palace 1 Complete Experiment and Set Record of 370 Days

Release time:May 21, 2018 / Zhao Yue

Lunar Palace 1, or Yuegong-1, opened its hatch again at Beihang University on May 15, 2018. Four volunteers, Liu Hui, Liu Dianlei, Hu Jingfei, and Gao Han, walked out of Lunar Palace 1 with vegetables they planted in the lab and shared them with participants at the ceremony outside the facility. So far, Lunar Palace 365 Experiment, the longest 365+5 days’ stay in a self-contained cabin, has achieved complete success and set a new world record.

At the ceremony, Academician Qi Faren (Chef Designer of Shenzhou Spacecrafts), Academician Wang Jun (expert in human and environmental engineering), Academician Zhao Qinping (expert in virtual reality and artificial intelligence), Academician Fang Jiancheng (Vice President of Beihang University), and Professor Liu Hong (Chief Designer of Lunar Palace 1) opened the hatch together, welcoming the volunteers’ return. Prof. Liu introduced the major achievements they have made and announced the successful completion of Lunar Palace 365 Experiment. She said the experiment was successful in verifying the lab's overall design and reliability and determining such experiments' impact on humans' physical and psychological condition, and laid a good foundation for exploring ways to support extended stays in enclosed ecosystems.

Academician Qi Faren, Academician Wang Jun, Academician Zhao Qinping, Academician Fang Jiancheng, and Professor Liu Hong opened the hatch together

Volunteers of Group 1 went out of Lunar Palace 1 with vegetables they planted in the lab

Prof. Liu Hong announced the successful completion of Lunar Palace 365 Experiment

Vegetables and grain planted in Lunar Palace 1

Beginning on May 10th, 2017 and ending on May 15th, 2018, Lunar Palace 365 Experiment lasted for 370 days, being the longest bioregenerative life support system experiment with highest degree of closure. Its main task is to study how a biological system can provide life support for members with different metabolic levels and also run steadily. The time they walked out of the facility was 5 days later than planned, which is actually an intentionally simulated accident in order to examine their mental state. In this experiment, eight volunteers were devided into two groups and three stages: Group 1 was on duty at the first stage of 60 days; Group 2 then stayed in the lab for a record-breaking 200 days; Group 1 at last was on the duty for the third stage accounting for 110 days. Liu Hui, Liu Dianlei, Hu Jingfei, and Gao Han are the volunteers in Group 1, while Liu Guanghui, Yin Zhihao, Chu Zhengpei, and Wang Wei are Group 2.  

Volunteer Liu Hui delivered her speech at the ceremony. In the next stage, the team will evaluate the physical and mental conditions of volunteers and study test results, she said. In addition, Academician Qi Faren, Academician Fang Jiancheng, and Academician Wang Jun also spoke at the ceremony to express their congratulations and expectations.

8 volunteers with other participant leaders

Volunteer Liu Hui (left) and Academician Qi Faren (right) spoke at the ceremony

Vice President of Beihang University Fang Jiancheng (left) and Academcian Wang Jun (right) accepted the interview

It is known that the bioregenerative life support system (BLSS) applied in Lunar Palace 1, in which humans, animals, plants and microorganisms co-exist in a closed environment, is the key technology to safeguard long-term human survival on the moon or other extraterrestrial bodies. Before it is used in space exploration, ground experiment for demonstration and verification is necessary, and the technology to run and adjust the system steadily must be developed. After a decade of efforts, the team led by Prof. Liu Hong developed Lunar Palace 1, a comprehensive experimental facility with BLSS, which is the first one in China and the third in the world. The first 105-day long-term high-closure integrated experiment in Lunar Palace 1 conducted in the year of 2014 marks China has become the third country possessing the technology, also referring to the successful establishment of world's first artificial closed human-animal-plant-microorganism ecosystem.

According to the interview on site, the closure level of the 370-day Lunar Palace 365 Experiment has exceeded the record made by the team in 2014, reaching 98%. Prof. Liu Hong said, the experiment for the first time established the biological modulation technology to run and adjust the system steadily, and verified the effectiveness of the technology through the change shifts of members with different metabolism states, power cut, equipment trouble and other emergency situations during the experiment; analyzed the stability of BLSS under different conditions and clarified the key factors affecting the reliability of BLSS; found the law of how natural light system transformation influenced human biological rhythms and emotions in claustrophobic space, and invented simulated technology and equipment which could imitate natural light transformation to regulate the rhythms and emotions; and established long-term and high-efficiency cultivation techniques for plants, as well as long-term recycling, utilization, purification and allocation technology for nutrient solution.

When talking about the next project, Prof. Liu said based on the analysis of the experimental results, they would explore smaller BLSS equipment which could be loaded onto space labs, moon and Mars probes in the future.

More than 50 media have reported the ceremony, including People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency, China Media Group, Guangming Daily, China Daily and other domestic media, as well as the Reuters, Agence France-Presse and other overseas media.

 

Reported by Yu Min, Shi Yue

Photographed by Sun Yecheng, Song Chao, Wang Zhen, Zhang Zhiwei

Edited by Yu Min

Translated by Zhao Yue