Humanity is one small step closer to putting astronauts on Mars, and making sure they’re well fed while they’re there.
NASA designed an inflatable cylinder greenhouse that could help solve one of the biggest issues facing deep space exploration – how to sustain astronauts who will be gone for years or, who might never return home.
The Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse project was created with the University of Arizona’s agriculture department and uses a process called a bioregenerative life support system. This process essentially mimics the way plants grow on Earth.
“The approach uses plants to scrub carbon dioxide, while providing food and oxygen,” Ray Wheeler, NASA’s lead scientist on the project, said in a press release.
Since humans exhale carbon dioxide, the greenhouse will collect CO2 from the astronauts, allowing the plants to generate oxygen through photosynthesis. Water is added from what was brought on board, or from a hypothetical lunar or Martian landing site. The water is oxygenated and given nutrient salts before watering the plants. It’s then recycled into a storage bin. The greenhouse can also be used for air revitalization and waste recycling.
“The entire system of the lunar greenhouse does represent, in a small way, the biological systems that are here on Earth,” Wheeler said.
Researchers are currently testing out different plants and seeds to see what would work best in space and on Mars specifically.
This inflatable greenhouse could feed astronauts on Mars – New York Post