The second shift change ceremony of Lunar Palace 365 Experiment was held on the morning of January 26th. Till then, the four volunteers of the second group had stayed at Lunar Palace 1 for 200 consecutive days, breaking the world record of 180 days’ stay in a bioregenerative life support system set by Russia. Lunar Palace 1 also reached the highest international level in terms of system closure and run time.
Chu Zhengpei, Yi Zhihao, Wang Wei and Liu Guanghui (from left to right), volunteers of the second group, in the cabin (Photo by Wang Yuchen)
Prof. Liu Hong, Chief Designer and Chief Scientist of Lunar Palace 1, reported the progress of the experiment at the ceremony. According to her, the lab ran steadily and its equipment operated normally in the past 260 days. All kinds of crops and vegetables grew well, and the physiological indices of the volunteers were accurately recorded. Prof. Liu also encouraged the whole team to strive for the success of the Lunar Palace 365 Experiment.
Tian Yulong, Chief Engineer of State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence and Secretary General of China National Space Administration, and Fang Jiancheng, Vice President of Beihang University, also addressed the ceremony with praise and expectations. Together with other participants, they witnessed the work handover between the second group and the first group and expressed their best wishes.
Ms. Liu, Mr. Fang and Mr. Tian (from left to right) spoke at the ceremony (Photo by Wang Yuchen)
Liu Hui, Liu Dianlei, Hu Jingfei and Gao Han, volunteers of the first group who had worked for the first 60 days in the lab, will complete the third stage of the experiment. Beside daily tasks, their mission also includes the study of various sudden failures to further test the impact resistance of Lunar Palace 1 during the remaining 105-day stage.
Prof. Liu also disclosed that after Lunar Palace 365 Experiment, her team would actively seek a ride and resources on China’s lunar or Mars probe to conduct small-scale bioregenerative life support system experiments on the surface of the moon or Mars. Comparing such experiments with parallel experiments on Earth, they expect to obtain the parameters to correct the results of large ground system simulation, laying the foundation for applying the design and operation parameters of large ground manned bioregenerative life support system research to the moon or Mars.
The brief reunion of the eight volunteers after the first group entered the cabin (Photo by Shi Yue)
Adopted in Lunar Palace 1, the bioregenerative life support system is the key technology to ensure long-term survival of human beings on the moon or Mars. Before it can be applied to space exploration, ground experiments for demonstration and verification are necessary, and the technology to run, adjust and control the system steadily also needs to be developed through the experiments.
Established by Prof. Liu’s team in October 2013, Lunar Palace 1 refers to Integrative Experimental Facility for Permanent Astrobase Life-support Artificial Closed Ecosystem (PALACE) Research. In 2014, China’s first long-term and high-closure integrated experiment, which lasted for 105 days, was carried out successfully in it. The experiment marked that China became the third country in the world to master the system and signified the establishment of world’s first closed artificial human-animal-plant-microorganism ecosystem.
Beginning on May 10th, 2017 and ending on May 10th, 2018, Lunar Palace 365 Experiment will be 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 experiment draws attention from all over the world. Nature, a top scientific journal, selected a photo of Lunar Palace 1 as one of its best science images of 2017.
Over 20 media outlets, such as Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, Guangming Daily, CCTV, China Daily and so on, reported from the scene (Photo by Shi Yue)
Reported by Yu Min, Shi Yue, Wang Yuchen, Li Jichen and Yao Zhikai
Edited by Shi Yue and Li Mingzhu
Translated by Li Mingzhu