China starts human survival experiment for space exploration

Beijing, June 17 (IANS) At least four volunteers on Friday started a 180-day living experiment in a sealed space capsule, which will test technologies that will support China’s deep-space exploration projects.

The volunteers will live in a sealed capsule in Shenzhen city. Scientists hope the experiment will cast light on how oxygen, water and food can be used and recycled under controlled conditions, Xinhua news agency reported.

The 1,340-cubic-metre sealed capsule, which has a floor space of 370 square metres, is divided into eight compartments, including the passenger compartment, resource compartment and greenhouse compartments.

Scientists have cultivated 25 kinds of plants in the capsule, including wheat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, soybeans, peanuts, lettuce, edible amaranth and pak choi. Fruits like strawberry, cherry, tomato and horse radish are also on the list.

The plants are part of a larger ecological treatment system that will help regenerate oxygen and water, reducing dependency on outside supplies.

Scientists will also monitor and observe how a hermetic environment affects physiological changes, biological rhythms, sleep patterns and emotional wellbeing.

More than a dozen Chinese and overseas institutions are involved in the experiment, including the Shenzhen-based Space Institute of Southern China, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harvard University and the German Aerospace Centre.



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