Bioengineering Branch (Code SCB)
Future missions to the Moon and Mars will require the development of life support systems that minimize launch mass and resupply costs, and significantly increase self-sufficiency.
OverviewThe Bioengineering Branch is developing the next generation of life support systems to enable humans to live in space for extended periods of time with minimal resupply. Exploration Life Support research and technology development is directed primarily at advancing physicochemical processes for use in regenerative life support systems required for these future human missions. Technology development areas include atmosphere revitalization and trace contaminant control, water recovery, waste management, and systems engineering tools for technology gap identification, trade studies and down selection.
Recently, the Branch has expanded its biological research to use advances in nanotechnology and information technology to develop innovative biotechnologies. In support of NASA's Vision for Space Exploration, there is a growing need for the development of smaller, lighter, and 'smarter' scientific instruments and technologies compatible with space exploration. The necessary breakthroughs in this area may well be achieved in the revolutionary field of biologically inspired nanotechnology. This is technology on the scale of molecules, which holds the promise of creating devices smaller and more efficient than anything currently available. Current areas of research include protein-templated nanoparticle arrays, biosensors and enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose.