Bioastronautics


Bioastronautics

Bioastronautics is a specialty area of bioengineering research which encompasses numerous aspects of biological, behavioral, and medical concern governing humans and other living organisms in a space flight environment; and includes design of payloads, space habitats, and life support systems. In short, it spans the study and support of life in space.

Of particular interest from a biological perspective are the effects of reduced gravitational force felt by inhabitants of spacecraft. Often referred to as "microgravity", the lack of sedimentation, buoyancy, or convective flows in fluids results in a more quiescent cellular and intercellular environment primarily driven by chemical gradients. Certain functions of organisms are mediated by gravity, such as gravitropism in plant roots and negative gravitropism in plant stems, and without this stimulus growth patterns of organisms onboard spacecraft often diverge from their terrestrial counterparts. Additionally, metabolic energy normally expended in overcoming the force of gravity remains available for other functions. This may take the form of accelerated growth in organisms as diverse as worms like "C. elegans" to miniature parasitoid wasps such as "Spangia endius". It may also be used in the augmented production of secondary metabolites such as the vinca alkaloids Vincristine and Vinblastine in the rosy periwinkle ("Catharanthus roseus"), whereby space grown specimens often have higher concentrations of these constituents that on earth are present in only trace amounts.

From an engineering perspective, facilitating the delivery and exchange of air, food, and water, and the processing of waste products is also challenging. The transition from expendable physicochemical methods to sustainable bioregenerative systems that function as a robust miniature ecosystem is another goal of bioastronautics in facilitating long duration space travel. Such systems are often termed Closed Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS).

From a medical perspective, long duration space flight also has physiological impacts on astronauts. Accelerated bone decalcification, similar to osteopenia and osteoporosis on Earth, is just one such condition. Study of these effects is useful not only in advancing methods for safe habitation of and travel through space, but also in uncovering ways to more effectively treat the related terrestrial ailments.

ee also

*NASA's Bioastronautics Roadmap [http://bioastroroadmap.nasa.gov/index.jsp]
*University of Colorado at Boulder Bioastronautics Research Group [http://spot.colorado.edu/~klaus/BioastroResearchGroup.htm]
*The American Society of Gravitational and Space Biology (ASGSB) [http://asgsb.org]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • bioastronautics — ☆ bioastronautics [bī΄ō as΄trə nôt′iks ] n. the science that deals with the physical responses of living things to the environment of space and space travel …   English World dictionary

  • bioastronautics — bioastronautic, bioastronautical, adj. /buy oh as treuh naw tiks/, n. (used with a sing. v.) the science dealing with the effects of space travel on life. [1955 60; BIO + ASTRONAUTICS] * * * …   Universalium

  • bioastronautics — noun The study of the biological, behavioural and medical aspects of astronautics …   Wiktionary

  • bioastronautics — The study of the effects of space travel and space habitation on living organisms. * * * bio·as·tro·nau·tics .as trə nȯt iks, nät n pl but sing or pl in constr the medical and biological aspect of astronautics * * * bio·as·tro·nau·tics… …   Medical dictionary

  • bioastronautics — n. study of the effects of space travel on living organisms …   English contemporary dictionary

  • bioastronautics — bio·astronautics …   English syllables

  • bioastronautics — bi•o•as•tro•nau•tics [[t]ˌbaɪ oʊˌæs trəˈnɔ tɪks[/t]] n. (used with a sing. v.) ars the science dealing with the effects of space travel on life • Etymology: 1955–60 bi o•as tro•nau′tic, bi o•as tro•nau′ti•cal, adj …   From formal English to slang

  • bioastronautics — /ˌbaɪoʊæstrəˈnɔtɪks/ (say .buyohastruh nawtiks) noun the science dealing with the effects of space travel on animals and plants …   Australian English dictionary

  • bioastronautics — …   Useful english dictionary

  • BIOALRT — Bioastronautics Laboratory Research Tool …   Acronyms


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