A new, high-tech Space Colony Research is trying to find answers to one of humanity’s greatest questions: can people live in space?
Led by Japan’s first female astronaut, Chiaki Mukai, this research center is located in laboratories at the Tokyo University of Science, where a team of 30 researchers are using cutting-edge technology to examine ways to keep humans alive on a potential moon or Mars colonies, Phys.org reports.
It’s in our nature to explore. The Earth is too small for us, don’t you think?
The 66-year-old has spent over 500 hours in space on two separate missions. She added that human space exploration is entering a new era, with commercial space ventures backed by private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX making history.
“It’s very realistic to establish a colony on the moon by 2030,” said Mukai. She added that people had to think beyond the International Space Station, which she says is a “campsite—you have to bring everything with you.”
One of the space colony’s innovations is a unique way to produce food using liquid plasma created by putting high-voltage electricity through a saline solution. This process reduces the harmful algae that form in water when crops are sown. Tests simulating space conditions have proven that potatoes can grow quicker and more efficiently using this kind of system.
The research center has also come up with an ingenious system to produce electricity using tiny thermoelectric sensors that could potentially be attached to a colony. This means the colony can be kept at a comfortable room temperature, even if it gets incredibly hot or cold outside.
Another team is working on how to detect and capture space debris, as there are currently over 29,000 pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth that could pose a danger to potential space colonists.
Mukai established the center at the start of this year, and said that many of the technologies the center is working on can also be used on Earth. “We are not only developing the technology for a moon base but as a spin-off, we will be able to help many issues that we need to solve on Earth.”