NASA researchers developed an inflatable greenhouse to provide food for astronauts. Scientists need to think every aspect of future Mars missions, especially food and resources which can sustain life. The inflatable cylinder greenhouse could solve one of the most significant problems experienced in deep space missions. Because astronauts will be gone for many years, they need to find a way to sustain them.
- NASA researchers collaborated with specialists in agriculture to build an inflatable greenhouse.
- This greenhouse could help astronauts in deep space missions and during extended stays on Mars or on the Moon.
- The new project is called the Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse.
NASA has designed the Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse project in collaboration with the agriculture department of the University of Arizona. The process used by this inflatable greenhouse is a bioregenerative life support system. The revolutionary process simulates the way plants grow on our planet. Ray Wheeler, NASA’s lead scientist on the project, argued that the new approach utilizes plants to absorb carbon dioxide while offering oxygen and food.
The greenhouse is bound to collect all the carbon dioxide exhaled by astronauts and will use it to grow plants which will provide oxygen in return through photosynthesis. Astronauts will add water from their resources or a potential Martian and lunar landing site. The water receives nutrient salts, and it is oxygenated before being used to water the plants.
Then, the water is recycled and kept into a storage bin. The inflatable greenhouse can be used for waste recycling and air revitalization. Wheeler argued that the system of the lunar or Martian greenhouse represents, at a small scale, the biological systems encountered on our planet. Scientists are now testing several species of seeds and plants to establish which ones are the most suitable ones to be grown on Mars.
The Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse Project is bound to help astronauts grow vegetables during long deep space missions or extended stays on Mars, on the Moon or on any other distant planet where they cannot receive constant resupplies. The cornerstone of this greenhouse is not soil. The system is hydroponic. They only need to add water enriched with all sorts of nutrients. Dr. Gene Giacomelli, the director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona, claimed that the process used by this greenhouse is bound to replicate the one used on Earth.
An important part when developing such a complex system is knowing what astronauts need to bring on that planet and what resources need to be used or could be found when landing. This revolutionary greenhouse represents an autonomous approach regarding extended space exploration.
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