Space Synthetic Biology Grand Challenges

Science fiction fans will enjoy reading this paper on space biology, hosted at The Royal Society:

Space synthetic biology is a branch of biotechnology dedicated to engineering biological systems for space exploration, industry and science. There is significant public and private interest in designing robust and reliable organisms that can assist on long-duration astronaut missions. Recent work has also demonstrated that such synthetic biology is a feasible payload minimization and life support approach as well. This article identifies the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the field of space synthetic biology, while highlighting relevant progress. It also outlines anticipated broader benefits from this field, because space engineering advances will drive technological innovation on Earth.
(From Grand challenges in space synthetic biology)

Engineer (and science-fiction writer) George O. Smith thought about this problem; he decided to solve it the natural way (in 1942!) on the Venus Equilateral Station.

"What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?" shouted Channing. "... We breathe oxygen, exhale CO2. Plants inhale CO2 and exhale oxygen. An 'air plant' means just that. It is a specialized type of Martian sawgrass that uses chlorophyll... We've spent years getting that plant so it will grow just right. It got so good that the CO2 detectors weren't even needed...
(Read more about Martian sawgrass)

Thanks to Winchell Chung (@nyrath) of Project Rho for pointing this one out.

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