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"From the Mars500 project, discoveries important to the survival of astronauts in space"

“From the Mars500 project, discoveries important to the survival of astronauts in space”

culture – This was stated by Francesco Canganella, who coordinated the studies on behalf of the University of Tocia

Francesco Canganella

Viterbo – We receive and publish – “A greater understanding of the role and composition of salivary bacteria, which is so important for the hygiene of the body and its interaction with the digestive system, could certainly have implications for human health and for the treatment of diseases carried by the fecal-oral system.” Thus Francesco Canganella, Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Microbiology at Depaf at the University of Tocia and responsible for the Mars 500 project unit, outlines the results of his team.

“In addition – he continues – it is clear to imagine that this type of investigation will certainly contribute in the near future to human space exploration and the survival of astronauts in conditions of psychological and nutritional stress.”

Dibaf, through Professor Canganella, won a tender from the European Space Agency in 2010 to participate in the Mars500 program and the proposed project was funded by the Italian Space Agency. It was the longest simulation of a trip to Mars ever conducted, including 150 experiments, two of which were conducted by the University of Viterbo.

The aim of the work, conducted by Canganella’s group in collaboration with Renato Fani of the University of Florence, was to examine the temporal dynamics of salivary microbes, and to assess the effect of diets and daily individual interactions within prolonged confinement during which subjects included shared spaces, diet, work rhythms, leisure time and sleep mode. and wake up. All this using the Mars500 as a unique, long-term experience that has never been replicated to date.

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Mars500 was the first international study simulating travel and life on Mars that realistically lasted for 500 days, the time required to go to and return to Mars as well as stay for six months on the Red Planet. Operationally managed by the European Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency, it was conducted in 2010-2011, when six male volunteers spent exactly 520 days inside a confined environment (a kind of planetary space base) built at the Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow.

Mars500 mission data was studied from various angles, including behaviour, influence of cultural background, cognitive performance, circadian rhythms, hormone levels, as well as environmental, intestinal, and salivary microorganisms.

It took many years to process the data and compare it with what other international research groups have done. The first publication on the data on intestinal microbiota by Professor Francesco Canganella’s team was published in 2017, and work on the findings on salivary microbiota was recently added to this.

Both work have been published in the journal Microbiome.

Tosya University

November 4, 2021