First Results from Turkish Astronaut Alper Gezeravcı’s ‘UzMAn’ Experiment in Space Revealed!

Emre Turan
3 min readMar 22, 2024

First Turkish astronaut, Alper Gezeravcı, has obtained initial results from his space experiment called “UzMAn” conducted in space. The experiment, focusing on the oxygen production capacity of microalgae in zero-gravity conditions, was conducted in collaboration with Boğaziçi University, TÜBİTAK Marmara Research Center, TÜBİTAK Space Institute, and Istanbul Medeniyet University.

According to scientists, the initial results revealed that microalgae in microgravity conditions can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen 3 to 5 times more efficiently compared to enclosed environments on Earth. This finding holds significant potential for meeting the oxygen and food needs of astronauts in space.

Three different types of microalgae capable of adapting to space conditions were used in the experiment, two of which can survive in extreme polar conditions, while the third can thrive in both freshwater and saltwater.

The Istanbul Microalgae Biotechnology Research and Development Unit at Boğaziçi University developed miniature microalgae reactors specifically for this experiment.

After meticulous preservation in NASA laboratories, the microalgae reactors were sent to the ISS along with Alper Gezeravcı. Upon reaching the ISS, the reactors were placed in the Columbus module developed by the European Space Agency. Through these studies, the reactors successfully provided answers to questions about microalgae oxygen production in space.

Dr. Berat Haznedaroğlu, an Associate Professor at Boğaziçi University’s Institute of Environmental Sciences, discussed the benefits of this experiment for the space sector:

“When adequately scaled, a medium-sized microalgae reactor has the potential to convert all the carbon dioxide consumed by three crew members into oxygen in a day, our studies show. Current systems on the space station that convert carbon dioxide into oxygen rely on physical and mechanical systems. If these systems were to malfunction, such as during colonization or base establishment missions on the Moon or Mars, delivering cargo from Earth would take at least six months to a year. The malfunction of a mechanical system could jeopardize the lives of the crew there. Therefore, having algae as self-growing, renewable systems is a significant gain. With the UzMAn experiment, we have proven that we can use our algae in air purification.”

“In the second phase of the experiment, we will metabolically examine the algae and understand which functional food products can be obtained most. Additionally, we will scientifically demonstrate which mechanisms contribute more to oxygen conversion. Human needs are entirely the same. They have energy, food needs. Plants grown for other experiments in space require fertilizer. When an animal needs it, it can be used as feed. Tomorrow, we have obtained significant data for various commercial applications such as the extraction of valuable metals and hydrogen production.”

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Emre Turan

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