Research Topic

Bioregenerative Life-Support Systems for Crewed Missions to the Moon and Mars

About this Research Topic

This Research Topic has been realized in collaboration with Dr. Lucie Poulet, NASA - Kennedy Space Center (Florida, USA) .

The present decade may see the beginning of a sustainable human presence on the Moon, expected to be followed by crewed missions to Mars. NASA, notably, aims at returning to the Moon by 2024 and establishing a sustainable presence there by 2028, before reaching Mars in the 2030s. Other space agencies including ESA, JAXA and CSA, as well as private companies such as SpaceX, have stated related objectives.

As missions get longer and more remote, providing all life-support consumables from Earth becomes un-realistic given launch costs, travel times, and risks of failure. Bioregenerative life-support systems (BLSS), ideally combined with in situ resource utilization (ISRU; by integrating elements found in the Moon and Mars’s regolith and, in the latter case, the atmosphere), are a highly promising way of addressing this limitation.

Despite extensive research performed over the last few decades, however, no BLSS project is mature that would significantly increase the autonomy of even a small-sized base on the Moon or Mars. While the day when such systems are needed may be thought of as remote, experience gained from long-running BLSS projects (e.g., MELiSSA) shows that their development requires much time. Pragmatic efforts are needed presently for BLSS to be ready when Moon and Mars missions would benefit from them.

This Research Topic hopes to stimulate and channel such efforts. We hope to gather an overview of the field today, lessons learned from past efforts, original results, and innovative concepts that may find their way into mission designs.

We welcome submissions of Original Research, Perspective, and state-of-the-art Review and Mini-Review articles on BLSS, relevant to future Moon and Mars missions. Manuscripts dealing with BLSS and ISRU are particularly sought after. Papers related to BLSS in LEO are eligible, provided a perspective is given on Moon and Mars BLSS. Suggested topics can cover, but are not limited to:
1. Bio-ISRU.
2. Hybrid LSS (bio/physico-chemical).
3. Potential contributions of synthetic biology, or other branches of biology engineering, to BLSS.
4. State-of-the-art reviews of BLSS projects.
5. New concepts for BLSS, or BLSS components.
6. Modeling in BLSS.
7. Criteria for assessing comparing BLSS performances.
8. Critical assessment of current BLSS projects.
9. Lessons learned from previous and ongoing BLSS projects.
10. Strategies, and major challenges, in developing BLSS.
11. Technology transfer: BLSS development supporting industries, helping address major challenges, on Earth.
12. Planetary protection: minimizing the contamination risk posed by BLSS.


Keywords: Bioregenerative life-support systems, BLSS, in situ resource utilization, ISRU, Crewed space exploration, space biotechnologies


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

This Research Topic has been realized in collaboration with Dr. Lucie Poulet, NASA - Kennedy Space Center (Florida, USA) .

The present decade may see the beginning of a sustainable human presence on the Moon, expected to be followed by crewed missions to Mars. NASA, notably, aims at returning to the Moon by 2024 and establishing a sustainable presence there by 2028, before reaching Mars in the 2030s. Other space agencies including ESA, JAXA and CSA, as well as private companies such as SpaceX, have stated related objectives.

As missions get longer and more remote, providing all life-support consumables from Earth becomes un-realistic given launch costs, travel times, and risks of failure. Bioregenerative life-support systems (BLSS), ideally combined with in situ resource utilization (ISRU; by integrating elements found in the Moon and Mars’s regolith and, in the latter case, the atmosphere), are a highly promising way of addressing this limitation.

Despite extensive research performed over the last few decades, however, no BLSS project is mature that would significantly increase the autonomy of even a small-sized base on the Moon or Mars. While the day when such systems are needed may be thought of as remote, experience gained from long-running BLSS projects (e.g., MELiSSA) shows that their development requires much time. Pragmatic efforts are needed presently for BLSS to be ready when Moon and Mars missions would benefit from them.

This Research Topic hopes to stimulate and channel such efforts. We hope to gather an overview of the field today, lessons learned from past efforts, original results, and innovative concepts that may find their way into mission designs.

We welcome submissions of Original Research, Perspective, and state-of-the-art Review and Mini-Review articles on BLSS, relevant to future Moon and Mars missions. Manuscripts dealing with BLSS and ISRU are particularly sought after. Papers related to BLSS in LEO are eligible, provided a perspective is given on Moon and Mars BLSS. Suggested topics can cover, but are not limited to:
1. Bio-ISRU.
2. Hybrid LSS (bio/physico-chemical).
3. Potential contributions of synthetic biology, or other branches of biology engineering, to BLSS.
4. State-of-the-art reviews of BLSS projects.
5. New concepts for BLSS, or BLSS components.
6. Modeling in BLSS.
7. Criteria for assessing comparing BLSS performances.
8. Critical assessment of current BLSS projects.
9. Lessons learned from previous and ongoing BLSS projects.
10. Strategies, and major challenges, in developing BLSS.
11. Technology transfer: BLSS development supporting industries, helping address major challenges, on Earth.
12. Planetary protection: minimizing the contamination risk posed by BLSS.


Keywords: Bioregenerative life-support systems, BLSS, in situ resource utilization, ISRU, Crewed space exploration, space biotechnologies


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 January 2021 Abstract
26 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 January 2021 Abstract
26 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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