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Explorer Post 633 Human Space Exploration Lunar Plant Growth Chamber Living in Space Module Dawn Jenkins Nancy Hall February 19, 2008 STS-118 takes Cinnamon Basil Seeds into Space The 10 million basil seeds that flew in space on the STS-118 space shuttle mission.

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lunar plant growth chamber

Explorer Post 633

Human Space Exploration

Lunar Plant Growth Chamber

Living in Space Module

Dawn Jenkins

Nancy Hall

February 19, 2008

sts 118 takes cinnamon basil seeds into space
STS-118 takes Cinnamon Basil Seeds into Space

The 10 million basil seeds that flew in space on the STS-118 space shuttle mission.

Park Seed Company, will sort and place the seeds in small packets, each packet containing approximately 50 seeds.

The space-flown seeds will be packaged in a commemorative envelope with an insert that provides additional information about the seeds.

nasa engineering design challenge
NASA Engineering Design Challenge

Design a lunar plant growth chamber that could sustain plants on the surface of the moon.

A plant growth chamber is a facility that allows plants to grow with:

  • controlled temperature
  • Light
  • Humidity
  • Atmosphere (including carbon dioxide and oxygen concentrations)
  • Moisture
  • Nutrient delivery

Plant growth chambers attempt to provide, in space, all of the things plants normally need to grow on Earth.

nasa engineering design challenge5
NASA Engineering Design Challenge

Design a lunar plant growth chamber that could sustain plants on the surface of the moon.

  • NASA is interested in this type of facility because plants will play an extraordinarily important role in allowing humans to explore destinations like the moon and Mars.
  • Plants will provide fresh food, oxygen and even reminders of home.
  • Only plants can recycle atmospheric carbon dioxide (exhaled by astronauts when they breathe) back into useful oxygen.
  • Astronauts could run out of oxygen on long-duration missions unless they have plants to regenerate their atmosphere.
how do you grow plants on the moon
How do you grow plants on the moon?

Challenge faced by lunar farmers (e.g. astronauts)

  • Moon has no atmosphere
  • No liquid water
  • No "normal" nutritional components in the soil.
  • No enclosed shelter, such as a greenhouse.
  • Blinding sunlight during the moon’s "day," with intense heat.
  • Nights are extremely cold with temperatures well below freezing.
  • The day and night cycles are longer.
  • Potential exposure to cosmic radiation, and only one-sixth the gravity of Earth.

Under these inhospitable conditions, growing plants is a challenge.

how do you grow plants on the moon7
How do you grow plants on the moon?
  • One answer to this challenge is to design and build a growth chamber -- a greenhouse on the moon -- that will provide the minimal necessities needed to grow healthy plants.
  • The seeds must germinate and grow into normal, healthy plants to make more seeds and fruits to feed the moon pioneers and to generate fresh oxygen.

Two plant growth chambers were flown to the International Space Station on the STS-118 shuttle mission. Once transferred to the space station, astronaut Clay Anderson grew cinnamon basil in one chamber and lettuce in the second.

background information
Background Information
  • The moon has 1/6 the gravity of Earth, no atmosphere and may have water (ice) at the poles. Some elements can be found in the rocks and regolith, but there are no nutrients in lunar regolith.
  • Due to limited space, plant species with the most edible parts and least waste are preferable. Like people, some plant species are more compatible with certain species and less compatible with others.
  • Note selected plants have special requirements concerning temperature, light, radiation protection, etc.
  • Mechanical subsystems may be required to circulate air, water and nutrients.
  • Methods of shipping growth chamber parts to lunar surface include:
    • collapsible
    • inflatable
    • some assembly required
designing a chamber things to think about
Designing a Chamber- things to think about -
  • Include drawings and/or pictures with dimensions, graphs, charts and other visual aids students. Present design to the post. Justify each part of the design—why it is the way it is…
  • How the chamber will be manufactured, operated, maintained, replaced and ultimately disposed of?
  • Who will operate and take care of it?
  • The costs associated with your chamber’s design and function. (This may introduce constraints on the design.)
  • Reduce the chance of system failure, by testing design using small-scale models, computer simulations, analogous systems or just the parts of the system thought to be least reliable.

Note: The more parts and connections a system has, the more ways it can go wrong. Complex systems usually have components to detect, back up, bypass or compensate for minor failures.

slide10

Challenge Criteria

and Constraints

For this five-part challenge, you will perform the same steps as NASA engineers:

1. Decide which plants would be best to grow in your LPGC.

a. Decide what species would be best (this must integrate personal preferences with research).

b. Research the requirements of each plant species in order to keep it healthy (air, water, light, nutrients, etc.) We are using cinnamon basil seeds.

2. You must design an LPGC that will occupy less space on a cargo spacecraft than it will on the moon to facilitate transportation from Earth.

a. Collapsible volume will be one cubic meter.

b. Functional volume will be two cubic meters.

c. The prototype model will be a scale of 1:4.

d. You must design the subsystems (air, water, light, nutrients, etc.) for your LPGC that are needed to keep your plants healthy.

slide11

Challenge Criteria

and Constraints, cont.

For this five-part challenge, you will perform the same steps as NASA engineers:

3. Present your design to the Post.

4. Make modifications to design, and build a functional (working) prototype. (Boxes and various pieces of hardware may be used to represent pumps, sensors, etc. which may be too difficult or expensive to obtain.)

5. Present the final model to the Post.

STS-118 Plant Growth Experiment

Day 14, Sept. 5, 2007

tools materials equipment
Tools, Materials, Equipment
  • List of Material Needed to build design, plant chamber including tools
  • Possible Tools, Materials, Equipment(Any readily available materials may be used for building the lunar plant growth chamber. Use hand tools or power tools only with parental supervision or permission.)
      • Plywood
      • Wood glue and/or plastic cement
      • Staple gun and staples
      • Electric wire
      • Clear plastic sheet
      • Acrylic
      • Screws and nails
      • Plastic tubing and syringes
      • Light bulbs and fixtures
      • Hinges
tom s plant growth chamber

Syringe

Tom’s Plant Growth Chamber

Visqueen

Water Packet

Materials:

Visqueen

V8 bottles

Coffee filters

Rubber bands

Velcro

Syringe

Soil

Seeds

Water

Rubber Band

Coffee Filter

V8 plastic container

webpages
Webpages

Main

  • http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/plantgrowth/home/index.html

Gallery

  • http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/plant-growth-gallery-index.html

Success with Seeds

  • http://www.successwithseed.org/content/blogsection/52/225/