AGH UST student on an analogue space mission at the LunAres Research Station

The photo shows a young woman in an AGH Space Systems T-shirt who is examining a transparent fluid in a glass container that she is holding up to her face with her left arm. She is also wearing blue disposable gloves and a lanyard.

photo by Maciej Talar, KSAF AGH

Barbara Szaflarska, a student at the AGH UST and a member of the AGH Space Systems Student Research Club, will participate in an analogue space mission organised by the LunAres Research Station. This extraordinary place facilitates crewed space mission simulations since 2017, at a post-military airport in Piła, Poland.

Participants, locked up for two weeks in an environment that simulates an extraterrestrial research station, will have the opportunity to conduct pilot research related to space exploration.

The experiment of the AGH UST student aims to investigate the possibilities of using Neocaridina davidi shrimps as nitrogen producers in an aquaponic system, that is, a futuristic food production system, including fish and plants. The results will allow her to determine the usefulness of these organisms in plant cultivation with the use of the aforementioned solutions. Aquaponics is developed with future settlements on the Moon and Mars in mind, where the atmosphere does not allow for traditional agriculture.

This experiment will be a continuation of a research project carried out by the AGH Space Systems SRC, in which the team investigates the possibilities for safe transport of shrimps to the Earth’s orbit or to other planets. The author of the project, Barbara Szaflarska, is a Biomedical Engineering student at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Automatics, Computer Science, and Biomedical Engineering and is a member of the AGH Space Systems Student Research Club, where she develops her projects that combine space exploration with biology and medicine.

Barbara Szaflarska emphasises:
‘The project related to Neocaridina davidi shrimps – SHREAMP (Space Habitat Research – Effectiveness of Anesthetic Monitoring Payload) aims to study the possibilities of reducing stress levels in shrimps during flight using anaesthetics and to develop particular subsystems of the research module – mechanical and electronic ones. Shrimps, as representatives of aquatic fauna, are capable of playing the role of nitrogen producers in aquaponic systems, which could one day be fundamental for future extraterrestrial settlements. In such systems, every element plays an important role, and the stress connected to transport can negatively affect the health of shripms, and consequently – the entire system. The experiment that will be conducted at the LunAres station will allow me to evaluate how Neocaridina davidi shrimps operate in an aquaponic system and how they impact the plants therein. Therefore, they too will have their own true space mission simulation’.

The mission, which will last from March 23 to April 9, 2022, will include 5 people in total. The AGH UST student will be joined by students and scientists from the University of Silesia in Katowice, the University of Beira Interior in Portugal, and ICEYE – a Finnish company that deals with SAR satellites.

The photo shows a research room lighted pink and four people in it. Two women in the background sitting in front od their laptops and two man in the foreground wearing environmental suits.Participants of the previous mission at the LunAres research station; photo by LunAres Research Station

The LunAres Research Station is a laboratory for carrying out research on people who remain in isolation during a simulated scenario of a space mission. The laboratory was launched in 2017 and has since organised 20 simulations with more than a hundred participants from 15 countries. The facility is used to investigate mission procedures and space medicine by researchers from the European Space Agency or SpaceX. In 2021, researchers from Poland and abroad carried out a series of tests that aimed to investigate the consequences of isolation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. For 2022, the LunAres Research Station and its partners from Poland and abroad have planned u number of analogue mission simulations that will allow them to study multifarious aspects related to crewed space exploration missions simultaneously.

Detailed information about the station and a photo gallery of previous missions are available at: lunares.space.