The molecular and microbiology laboratories are based at the Biology Laboratory at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne. The laboratories are part of the core medical area at :envihab, it allows direct investigation of microbial diversity within the inhabited, closed parts of the research unit. Modern molecular methods can be completed in the laboratories; the facility also provides gene laboratories and clean rooms.
The Biology Laboratory, which makes up Module Six of the :envihab research unit, has a total of five laboratories – all of which contain high-quality equipment. Microbiological and molecular biological analysis is carried out, astrobiological space experiments are prepared and evaluated, and space hardware is examined according to planetary protection regulations.
Research into life in extreme environments
Scientists are conducting research into fundamental microbiology such as the survival of life in extreme environments. Application-oriented studies are also being completed, such as those looking into plasma fluids for the decontamination of spacecraft. Microbiological aspects of bioregenerative life support systems are also being investigated. Astrobiological space experiments are prepared and evaluated, while space hardware and clean rooms intended for spacecraft assembly are examined for their microbial load.
Areas of application
The key microbiological research topics include life in extreme environments, studies on the efficiency of cold atmospheric plasmas for decontaminating spacecraft and microbiological aspects of bioregenerative life support systems. In addition, the Biology Laboratory allows the preparation and evaluation of astrobiological space experiments, as well microbiome analysis of spacecraft and clean rooms in which the vehicles are to be assembled; analysis of the entry of microorganisms into isolated environments such as caves due to human action is also investigated.