Plant cultivation with artifcial light and without soil

Sustained human presence in space requires the development of new technologies to maintain environmental control, manage waste, provide water, oxygen and food and to keep astronauts healthy and psychologically fit. Bio regenerative life support systems, using higher plants, can be advantageously employed for the production of food and oxygen, the reduction of carbon dioxide, and for water recycling and waste management. In addition, freshly harvested crops in controlled environments can also have a positive impact on the psychological well-being of the crew.

The EDEN ISS consortium has designed and is testing essential Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) technologies for possible experiments on board the ISS. For this, a cultivation system is used in a research module – the International Standard Payload Rack (ISPR). Moreover, a research greenhouse – the Future Exploration Greenhouse (FEG) – is being designed to provide future bio-regenerative life-support systems in a space environment. The technologies are being tested in a laboratory setting, as well as in the highly isolated Neumayer Station III, which is operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute in the Antarctic. The mobile test system – known as the EDEN ISS Mobile Test Facility (MTF) – will be used to study the mass flow relationships for the ISPR demonstrator and FEG. In addition to technology development and validation, food safety and plant handling procedures are being developed. These are integral aspects of the interaction between the crew and plants within closed environments.

Parties involved: DLR, LIQUIFER Systems Group, Austria, National Research Council, Italy, University of Guelph, Canada, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany, Enginsoft S.p.A., Italy, Airbus Defence and Space, Germany, Thales Alenia Space Italia S.p.A., Italy, Arescosmo S.p.A., Italy, Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands, Heliospectra AB, Sweden. Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland, Telespazio S.p.A., Italy, University of Florida, USA.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Daniel Schubert · E-Mail: daniel.schubert@dlr.de · DLR.de/en