FIGURE 3.1 Generalized framework outlining how biological concepts and principles relate to various types of functions.

suggest modifications to experiments based on previous experience.

Session 2 participants used this framework as the basis for a systems approach to identifying how specific biological activities might be exploited in practical ways to enhance human function in space. Relying on input from NASA, the group identified and inferred some of the functions of astronauts that need to be enhanced. Possible biological approaches to meeting those needs were then explored. The proposed solutions emphasized biological principles and analogies as opposed to living or bioengineered systems.

The analysis is limited in detail because NASA described its requirements only in broad terms. Session participants attempted to elicit additional details from workshop presenters but still had to make some assumptions about practical needs. Thus, the suggestions provided in this chapter need to be examined further by NASA in the context of defined requirements.

A number of general themes were discussed that influenced the analysis of needs and possible solutions. First, functional requirements for space systems differ from those for systems on Earth in a number of ways. Limitations on size and weight are more severe in the space environment, redundancies are needed to prevent system failures on the first error, and higher costs are tolerated in space systems for equivalent benefits. Second, similarities between deep space and the deep ocean—both are extreme environments far removed from home bases—suggest a potential for transferring diving technologies and concepts to the space program. Third, biological principles suggest the merit of processes that are inherently simple and evolutionary, as opposed to complex and excessively mechanical.

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