The goal is, to put it bluntly, to see if Shewanella can convert astronaut feces into hydrogen for use in onboard fuel cells. "The bacteria generates hydrogen. If we give waste to bacteria, it converts to hydrogen that could be used in a fuel cell. We're looking at how reliable the bacteria are," explains Donald Platt, the Program Director for the Space Sciences and Space Systems Program at the Florida Institute of Technology. Shewanella's viability will be determined based on its growth rate in space--figuring out, in other words, how different its life cycle is in space than it is on Earth.
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