What fundamental rules govern the self-sustainability of ecosystems for long-term space settlement?

In order for us to truly become an interplanetary species off Earth with a long-lasting, sustainable future in space, it is critical to uncover the universal rules governing the performance of different types of ecosystems with various features and conditions.

If we envision a long-lasting future of humanity in space, we need to understand the fundamental rules governing the performance of different types of ecosystems with various features and conditions. Specific case studies of carefully designed closed systems are effective for a relatively short period of time under certain conditions, but cannot adapt to emergent properties of ecosystems as they go through multiple phases of evolution, which surely happen in long-term space settlement. The goal of this project is to synthesize current models to develop a unifying theoretical framework of ecosystem functioning. This would allow us to move outside known case studies and enable predictive design of the initial phase of space settlement and their subsequent evolution.

 

Photo credit: nasa.gov

 Photo credit: biosphere.org

Photo credit: nasa.gov

People

Hikaru Furukawa Project lead, PhD student, School of Earth and Space Exploration/ ASU

Sara Walker Assistant Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration/ ASU

Jordan Okie Assistant Research Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration/ ASU

Manfred Laubichler President’s Professor, School of Life Sciences/ ASU Director, Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative/ ASU

Michael Barton Director, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity/ ASU Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change/ ASU

Classroom Research

Under this project, we offer a class where students engage in active learning through research on ecosystem functioning. Students will be expected to set their own research questions for their individual projects. This course will be an unique case of connecting research and education through interactive feedbacks by exposing students to the cutting-edge research going on at ASU campus.