Future manned space exploration will send humans farther away from Earth than ever before (e.g., to Mars), leading to extended mission durations and thus to a higher demand for essentials such as food, water and oxygen. As resupplying these items from Earth is nearly impossible, aquatic bioregenerative life support systems (BLSS) appear to be a promising solution. Due to its central role in aquatic ecosystems, zooplankton could act as a key player in aquatic BLSS, linking oxygen liberating, autotrophic producers and higher trophic levels. However, prior to the utilization of BLSS in space, organisms proposed to inhabit these systems have to be studied thoroughly to evaluate any space-borne adverse traits, which may impede a proper function of the system. To investigate the impact of microgravity (μg), in particular, several platforms are available, providing μg periods ranging from seconds (Bremen drop tower and parabolic flights), to minutes (sounding rockets), up to even days and months (space flights and the International Space Station (ISS)). Furthermore, ground-based facilities, such as clinostats, enable the of candidate organisms to variable periods of simulated/functional μg. In this book chapter, research on zooplankton utilizing these methods is summarized.
Part of the book: Into Space