K^2

KSP Community CubeSat

Ultimate Mission?  

103 members have voted

  1. 1. Ultimate Mission?

    • LEO Only - Keep it safe
      55
    • Sun-Earth L1
      5
    • Sun-Earth L2
      1
    • Venus Capture
      14
    • Mars Capture
      23
    • Phobos Mission
      99
    • Jupiter Moons Mission
      14
    • Saturn Moons Mission
      14
    • Interstellar Space
      52


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Some random thoughts:

Using soil based plant doesn't really solve many problems. They need to be watered as well and need to be kept at steady temperature. Plus they grow slowly and we don't know how long the satellite stays in operation. They also probably need more space to grow than water based organisms.

One option would be Spirulina algae. I'm not entirely sure what kind of growth conditions it requires, but it's a cyanobacteria so basically it needs water, nutrients and CO2. You can do a microgrowth experiment in a very small container, probably 10 milliliters is more than enough, the experiment is very fast as they grow quickly so the satellite doesn't even need to live for that long, just a few days. I don't know how representative a microgrowth experiment is though but a normal lab microgrowth is done in the milliliter range and sometimes even less than one milliliter.

Spirulina is actually soon going to be sent to the ISS to study how it grows in microgravity. It's a possible solution to creating a bioreactor which would scrub CO2 from the air, use it for growth and actually in my university they've studied a way to make food especially for astronauts from spirulina (it's actually used as a supplement already and tastes very bland). There's an ESA project called Melissa (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) which has been studing different species for this purpose and they've found Spirulina to be a good candidate.

A basic bioreactor is just a tube with the nutrient solution with the organism inside. Usually air is pumped through it, probably in this case air spiked with CO2 and there needs to be a way to extract the outflow of gas. With small growth chambers you could use one pump system for all experiments.

For the sake of science you'll need replicate experiments, preferably at least 3 to confirm anything. It's much more uesful to get one reliable result from one situation than shakier data from several situations. Of course if space and weight permits, do both gravities but start with getting one good dataset. If there's space it's easy to do for example one set of experiments in lunar gravity, spin up to martian and then do a second set of experiments. If you use for example 3 tubes @ 30 grams each, that's 90 grams for one experiment set and roughly 200 for 2 sets. Only restriction here is how much space and weight there is available. The defining factor here is also the heating mechanism. No matter what you plan to grow, it won't grow in freezing temperatures and will probably burn up in anything above 50 celsius.

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It's a shame we lost our sticky.

However, I have good news! Well, for me anyways. :P

My mom is real close to the boss at my work, and she saw me working on the CubeSat site, and now I'm getting paid $15 an hour to work on our company site. :D

On topic with the project though, The site is still starved of information. Any info anyone has, can be PMed to me or posted here. I'll get to it either way.

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While I understand that this isn't a realistic option, there's really only one properly Kerbal destination for this:

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One option would be Spirulina algae. I'm not entirely sure what kind of growth conditions it requires, but it's a cyanobacteria so basically it needs water, nutrients and CO2. You can do a microgrowth experiment in a very small container, probably 10 milliliters is more than enough, the experiment is very fast as they grow quickly so the satellite doesn't even need to live for that long, just a few days. I don't know how representative a microgrowth experiment is though but a normal lab microgrowth is done in the milliliter range and sometimes even less than one milliliter.

Spirulina is actually soon going to be sent to the ISS to study how it grows in microgravity. It's a possible solution to creating a bioreactor which would scrub CO2 from the air, use it for growth and actually in my university they've studied a way to make food especially for astronauts from spirulina (it's actually used as a supplement already and tastes very bland). There's an ESA project called Melissa (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) which has been studing different species for this purpose and they've found Spirulina to be a good candidate.

Spirulina is interesting. The Atomic Rockets website has a big discussion on its use in life support systems; apparently it's pretty awesome, but a Spirulina-based diet might lead to gout. (I'm not sure if anyone has ever actually done that though. The Wikipedia article links to experiments where they fed rats tons of Spirulina, but rats and most non-human animals IIUC aren't really susceptible to gout*)

*Although T. rex apparently was.

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I like the sound of spirulina. But, we'll have to run it through K^2 first.

BTW, I might look into spirulina a bit

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Just copying and pasting facts here:

A simple nutrient feed for growing spirulina is:

Baking soda - NaHCO3 - 16 g/L = 60.56 g/gal

Potassium nitrate - KNO3 - 2 g/L = 7.57 g/gal

Sea salt - NaCl - 1 g/L = 3.78 g/gal

Potassium phosphate - KH 2 PO 4 - 0.1 g/L = .378 g/gal

Iron sulphate - FeSO4 * 7H2O - 0.01 g/L = .0378 g/gal

- - - Updated - - -

algae has actually been tested and successfully grown in human urine at 1:180 parts.

(I found this quite funny)

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Due to very high Vitamin K content, patients undergoing anticoagulant treatments should not change consumption patterns of spirulina without seeking medical advice to adjust the level of medication accordingly

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1. Nice song... But no.

2. Okay, I get it, maybe a soil based plant is not a good idea, so maybe we should bring up that Spirulina.

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Toxicological studies of the effects of spirulina consumption on humans and animals, including feeding as much as 800 mg/kg, and replacing up to 60% of protein intake with spirulina, have shown no toxic effects. Fertility, teratogenicity, peri- and post-natal, and multi-generational studies on animals also have found no adverse effects from spirulina consumption. Spirulina intake has also been found to prevent damage caused by toxins affecting the heart, liver, kidneys, neurons, eyes, ovaries, DNA, and testicles. In a 2009 study, 550 malnourished children were fed up to 10 g/day of spirulina powder, with no adverse effects. Similarly, dozens of clinical studies in humans have shown no harmful effects from spirulina supplementation.

(this might be useful)

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Toxicological studies of the effects of spirulina consumption on humans and animals, including feeding as much as 800 mg/kg, and replacing up to 60% of protein intake with spirulina, have shown no toxic effects. Fertility, teratogenicity, peri- and post-natal, and multi-generational studies on animals also have found no adverse effects from spirulina consumption. Spirulina intake has also been found to prevent damage caused by toxins affecting the heart, liver, kidneys, neurons, eyes, ovaries, DNA, and testicles. In a 2009 study, 550 malnourished children were fed up to 10 g/day of spirulina powder, with no adverse effects. Similarly, dozens of clinical studies in humans have shown no harmful effects from spirulina supplementation.

(this might be useful)

Woah.

This is some serious stuff then. Grows quick and easy, and feeds and keeps animals healthy. Sounds like an optimal choice. Has anyone found any negatives about Spirulina?

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Looks like Spirulina might be our best bet. Thanks for the info, oarum! Do you happen to know what are its temperature limits? Because I guess that would be the starting point to design a thermal control system. I'm sorry for not searching by myself, but I'm on mobile and my phone is about to die. -_-

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Looks like Spirulina might be our best bet. Thanks for the info, oarum! Do you happen to know what are its temperature limits? Because I guess that would be the starting point to design a thermal control system. I'm sorry for not searching by myself, but I'm on mobile and my phone is about to die. -_-

Optimal for pretty much any growth is around 30-40 degrees celsius, looks like anything 40 is pretty bad. For spirulina it seems to be around 36 celsius but there are other factors too. Going below 30 isn't an issue, it just hinders growth a lot. I don't know how cyanobacteria can take freezing without prepping them for it but I do know they won't grow like that :D Soil based plants would be sturdier though, seeing as they don't die during hottest summer I'd guess they can survive and thrive if given water in a bit more robust conditions.

But if you want a liquid culture, it needs to stay in the range of 35 +/- 5 degrees if you want it to grow, depending a bit on organism. So the heat regulation is the defining factor here.

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Let's not regard the matter of what we're going to grow as anywhere near settled. There are several options and we'll need to do a little research on all of them, as well as work out the thermal design, before we can make a final decision.

My current status: I'm going through K^2's maths for the simulation. Expect it to take several days since I'm also reading up on some physics I'm not familiar with.

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Really, fantastic find oarum! Yeah, now you've convinced me that Spirulina is the best bet we have. :P

Hmm... Unfortunately there's really nothing for me to say about the thermal design right now, can't think of anything.

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I'll do some estimates. I think, we should have enough excess power on the day side to power a thermocouple heat pump, which would let us get rid of waste heat easily enough. (There are units designed for CPU cooling, which should be just about right in terms of power output and delta-T.) On the night side, cooling can be passive. All in all, I'm pretty sure we can maintain a +/- 5 degrees environment, which might not be ideal, but should be sufficient.

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I'll do some estimates. I think, we should have enough excess power on the day side to power a thermocouple heat pump, which would let us get rid of waste heat easily enough. (There are units designed for CPU cooling, which should be just about right in terms of power output and delta-T.) On the night side, cooling can be passive. All in all, I'm pretty sure we can maintain a +/- 5 degrees environment, which might not be ideal, but should be sufficient.

Do we have a list of hardware yet? It would make things like estimating excess power easier if we knew exactly what we think we're gonna work with. :)

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Woah.

This is some serious stuff then. Grows quick and easy, and feeds and keeps animals healthy.

I just copied all of that of wikipedia -_- I'm just too lazy. i might have a poke around a few more (reliable) websites. Also, we could do some testing on the spirulina if someone could get some

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looking at http://www.australianspirulina.com.au/

found this:

Spirulina is 100% natural and a highly nutritious micro salt water plant. It was discovered in South American and Africa in natural alkaline lakes. This spiral shaped algae is a rich food source. For a long time (centuries) this algae has constituted a significant part of the diet of many communities. Since the 1970's, Spirulina has been well known and widely used as a dietary supplement in some countries.Spirulina contains rich vegetable protein (60~ 63 %, 3~4 times higher than fish or beef ), multi Vitamins (Vitamin B 12 is 3~4 times higher than animal liver), which is particularly lacking in a vegetarian diet. It contains a wide range of minerals (including Iron, Potassium, Magnesium Sodium, Phosphorus, Calcium etc.), a high volume of Beta- carotene which protects cells (5 time more than carrots, 40 time more than spinach), high volumes of gamma-Linolein acid (which can reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease). Further, Spirulina contains Phycocyanin which can only be found in Spirulina.

In USA, NASA have chosen to use it for astronauts food in space, and even plan to grow and harvest it in space stations in the near future

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No pressure.

Well, it sure worked in the sixties. Looks like we have a genuine, good old fashioned 'Space Race'.

http://www.reddit.com/r/KerbalSpaceProgram/comments/2g1c7g/ksi_the_rksp_spaceflight_initiative/

I agree with astropapi1, we should try to contact them. Though, we could try cooperating with them, but we make our CubeSat's separately, and by that I mean is that we share info and stuff together, but we make our CubeSat with the artificial sub-gravity and spirulina, and they make there CubeSat's, there for 2 KSP CubeSats! :D And then, after that, maybe we can then work together to make the grand PHOBOS LANDER!!!

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On spirulina temperatures - from an FAO document on spirulina farming (http://www.fao.org/3/a-i0424e/)

"Spirulina shows an optimum growth between 35 and 37 °C under laboratory conditions. Outdoors, it seems that an increase in temperature up to 39 °C for a few hours does not harm the blue-green alga, or its photosynthetic ability. Thermophilic or thermotolerant strains of spirulina can be cultivated at temperatures between 35 and 40 °C. Such a property has the advantage of eliminating microbial mesophilic contaminants. The minimum temperature at which growth of spirulina takes place is around 15 °C during the day. At night, spirulina can tolerate relatively low temperatures. The resistance of spirulina to ultraviolet rays seems to be rather high (Richmond, 1986). "

Also possibly interesting...

"Alkaline, saline water (>30 g/l) with high pH (8.5 – 11.0) favour good production of spirulina, especially where there is a high level of solar radiation at altitude in the tropics"

"The higher the pH and the conductivity of the water, the greater is the likely predominance of Spirulina spp. This is the case in the lakes of the lakes of the Rift Valley of eastern Africa, where pH can reach values close to 11 and sodium carbonate is abundant. Spirulina platensis was isolated from waters containing from 85 to 270 g of salt per litre, and optimum growth occurred between 20 and 70 g of salt per litre. "

Woah.

This is some serious stuff then. Grows quick and easy, and feeds and keeps animals healthy. Sounds like an optimal choice. Has anyone found any negatives about Spirulina?

Well the Atomic Rockets site says eating a diet based on it could cause gout. I don't know if that has ever happened though.

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Actually, I would like a merge better. They have lots of people who could really help us. They just want to put something in space. That's what we're doing.

I am leaving a comment on the reddit page, telling them about this project, and letting them know of our interest in partnering. Also, I directed them to K^2 for questions. I mentioned either sharing a project, or collaborating with separate projects. Basically I left everything open, so I didn't make any decisions for us, I just let them know of our existence. :)

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I just discovered this thread and the idea sounds really interesting. I have not read all pages and only did a quick search and did not find anything similar, so excuse me if this has been suggested before. If we would like to qualify for a free ride then the cubesat should have some educational value. And one thing that came to mind was to see if a generated magnetic field has an impact on the radiation level. I did a quick search on the internet and only found this article but nothing about actual tests. What this would add in terms of hardware would be a geiger counter and a coil.

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