Web edition: September 9, 2011
Print edition: September 24, 2011; Vol.180 #7 (p. 4)
ALGAE COULD PROVIDE OXYGEN FOR SPACEMAN — Minute plant life that form the common green scum found on the surface of stagnant ponds and in river beds, Chlorella algae, assisted by the sun, may provide the future man in space with the oxygen essential to maintain life. A new gas exchange device operating on the principle of photosynthesis was designed and demonstrated by Lt. Col. John B. Fulton of the U.S. Air Force Arctic Aeromedical Laboratory, Fairbanks, Alaska. The algae using the energy of the sun convert the carbon dioxide exhaled by the astronaut into oxygen which is breathed in and exhaled again as carbon dioxide, the process being repeated indefinitely.