CHALLENGES AND APPROACH
Thanks to its multifunctional nature, within the MELiSSA loop, the crop contributes to the water recycling, air regeneration and food production, with a concomitant production of wastes (i.e. the non-edible part of the crop). Such contributions are highly variable from crop to crop. The closure of the MELiSSA loop requires then:
a) a careful selection of the crops
b) a detailed knowledge of the dynamics of these functions
c) the quantitative inputs/outputs at the crop scale, as well as at the higher plant compartment scale
Past activities on this topic, demonstrated the need to develop specific research infrastructures (both for crop studies and food processing studies) and to perform defined research programmes. The PaCMAN Unit is paving the way for such research programmes.
In the absence of gravity, natural convection does not occur. Consequently, the gas and water exchanges (i.e. result from the plant physical processes) between a plant and its environment are significantly impacted.
Within the MELiSSA Project, two micro-gravity experiments, ANTHEMS and WAPS, have been conceived to study this aspect.