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Topic 2

Life Science and Microgravity

Moon, Mars here we come!

Houston, we need a scientist! After millions of years of evolution, the human body has fully adapted to terrestrial conditions. This also means that many changes arise when astronauts spend time in space conditions, and it teaches us a lot about our physiology.
Space is also more than just weightlessness and radiation. It presents many challenges to sustain life: confinement, isolation, nutrition, circadian rhythm, heavy workload, etc. It is also necessary to develop new life support systems that do not rely on frequent resupplies to provide oxygen, water, and food. All these challenges need to be addressed to prepare future interplanetary missions to the Moon and Mars.

  • What happens to the human body in microgravity?

  • Before going to Mars, how to increase radiation resistance in astronauts?

  • Rotifers in space, what can we learn from them?

  • Supporting life in space: Bacterial production of Oxygen

Recorded Topic 2 Presentations


Jeremy Rabineau


Aerospace Engineer from ISAE-Supaéro (France) now enrolled in a PhD in Space Physiology at Université Libre de Bruxelles. Jérémy already had the opportunity to work on several experiments for the ISS and is passionate about the human aspects of space exploration. Beside this, he is also president of the student chapter of the European Low-Gravity Research Association (ELGRA).


Kevin Tabury

Scientific collaborator SCK CEN


Kevin Tabury is a junior scientist at the Radiobiology Unit of SCK CEN where he is leading Hadron radiation related projects in the context of Space and Radiotherapy research. Prior his function as junior scientist, he acquired almost 10 years of technical expertise as lab technician. He is also currently combining his position as junior scientist with a PhD at the University of South Carolina, USA.

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What happens to the human body in microgravity?

Vladimir Pletser

Director of Space Training Operations, Blue Abyss

Degrees in Mechanical Engineering, M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Physics (UCLouvain)


Visiting Professor, Centre for Space Utilization, Chinese Academy Sciences, Beijing,supporting microgravity research for parabolic flights and Chinese Space Station;

Senior Physicist – Engineer for 30 years at ESA-ESTEC, developing microgravity payloads (Spacelab,ISS) and responsible of parabolic flight programme (7350 parabolas, 39h30m of 0g, equivalent to 26 Earth orbits).

Before going to Mars, how to increase radiation resistance in astronauts

Bjorn Baselet

Scientific Collaborator, SCK CEN

Bjorn Baselet obtained his MSc in Biomedical Sciences at the Hasselt University in 2013. Afterwards he performed a joint PhD in the field of vascular problems after radiation exposure at UCL and SCK CEN. From 2017 onwards, Bjorn joined the Radiobiology Unit of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK CEN) where he is coordinating different ESA funded space biology projects, thereby investigating the impact of (simulated) space conditions on human health.

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Supporting life in space: Bacterial production

of Oxygen


Baptiste Leroy

Assistant professor - U Mons

Baptiste Leroy is studying bacterial metabolism at the University of Mons. He specialised recently in the analysis of nitrogen metabolism in cyanobacteria and carbon metabolism in purple bacteria. His activities currently englobe fundamental research through omics and molecular analyses as well as terrestrial application of bioprocesses.

Rotifers in space, what can we learn from them?

Karine Van Doninck

Full professor at UNamur

During a postdoctoral stay (2003-2006) in the laboratory of Prof. Matthew Meselson at Harvard University (USA), Karine Van Doninck discovered the bdelloid rotifers, unique microscopic animals being extremely resistant to freezing, desiccation and ionizing radiation. In September 2007, she became an Associate Professor at the University of Namur and founded the Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics and Ecology (LEGE), where she continues to study the resistance and asexual evolution of bdelloid rotifers. In September 2009, she was awarded the grade of Professor at UNamur and in 2017 Full Professor. The bdelloid rotifers are the model systems of her European projects ERC CoG and ESA and in December 2019 they were launched to ISS for the first mission out of three selected by ESA.

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