If you are wondering is there any need of space agriculture, then your concern is right. Astronauts, and employees who work in space can’t simply make a quick visit to the grocery store, if they need any good range of healthy meal choices. That is why there is a need to have the farming concept in space too.
Today, we will highlight some of the major projects by NASA & ESA when it comes to the space agriculture research.
What Backgrounded Study has been Provided by SpaceX?
As SpaceX’s 25th cargo resupply mission for NASA (SpX-25) is all ready towards the International Space Station. It will be transporting an important space agricultural and its biology study. Furthermore, this investigation also holds the potential to revolutionize the methods that we use to cultivate and sustain crops. That is why both in the space environment and on our home planet Earth will have a better point of view about agriculture.
How SpaceX has Conduct a Study on Space Agriculture?
This experiment is known as “Dynamics of Microbiomes in Space” (DynaMoS). And it centers around the investigation of small organisms that we don’t know. Moreover, the initial indications of life on Earth trace back more than three billion years.
These microorganisms that is also known as microbe. They will eventually paved the way for all the life forms thriving on our planet today. With the passage of time, these microbes have evolved to effectively to the available resources. And soil stands out as one of the most common, and opted ecosystems that has diverse microbial communities.
Microbes that stays in the soil plays a crucial role in the carbon cycle. And that is why the circulation of other essential nutrients, which in turn supports the growth of plants. Which is an important factor for the quality sustain of all life.
The DynaMoS project has a aim to dissect the impact of microgravity in space agriculture. And other variables on the metabolic plays important role among communities of soil microorganisms. This study will particularly highlight the soil microorganism groups which is known as chitin. It is basically a carbon polymer that ranks as the second most prevalent on our planet.
How Space Agriculture Pave a Way in Science Inventions & Discoveries?
As we all know that consistent efforts plays an important role in the plant growth. And they holds a good significant in space exploration. This is why paving into the microorganism communities that are found within soil takes on fundamental role in our many space explorations.
What is BPS & How it Contributes to Space Agriculture?
NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division takes the lead in driving scientific revelations. And it further facilitates the science exploration. They do it by harnessing space environments for conducting studies that is not possible on Earth.
We all know that investigating biological and physical phenomena within extreme conditions provides researchers with so much knowledge. With the means to push forward the important scientific insights necessary for extending our reach and duration in space missions. Aside from this, the future space agriculture’s research yield valuable insights that have practical applications here on Earth.
Important Words by a Scientist of BPS (Biological and Physical Sciences)
Dr. Mamta Patel Nagaraja. Who is a deputy program scientist for space biology for NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences (BPS) division. He said:
“Farmers on Earth face challenges with weather changes, balancing carbon levels in soil, and other unpredictable forces, but growing crops in space is a whole different playing field.
One factor that is key is understanding how soil microbes perform and function in microgravity since they heavily affect the carbon and nutrient levels. Understanding the behavior of these microbes in spaceflight has the potential to improve agricultural production for long duration space travel. Which includes to other planets, and of course, farming right here on Earth.”
What is APH & How it Contributes to Space Agriculture?
The Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) also serves as a growth chamber into the station which helps in the plant research. This system has LED lights and a micro clay substrate. That is couple with control release fertilizer. It effectively provide water, nutrients, and oxygen to the plant roots.
However, what sets APH apart is its enclosed and automated design. Which is equipped with cameras and over 180 sensors. They maintain constant communication with a ground-based team stationed at Kennedy.
Furthermore, it demands less day-to-day attention from the crew. Automation handles aspects such as water recovery and distribution, atmospheric composition, moisture levels, and temperature regulation. APH features an expanded palette of LED light colors compared to Veggie, including red, green, blue, white, far red, and even infrared. Which further benefits the nighttime imaging capabilities.
What is BRIC LED Lights?
The Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) serves as a facility that help out in investigating the impact of space conditions on tiny organisms. Which can be cultivate in petri dishes. These organisms encompass entities like yeast and microbes. The latest iteration, known as BRIC-LED, has introduced light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to cater to biological specimens such as plants, mosses, algae, and cyanobacteria that rely on light to produce their sustenance.
Currently, BRIC-LED is undergoing tests to validate its hardware. Scientists are diligently ensuring that the LEDs remain within suitable temperature ranges for the plants while also conducting various system checks. In the near future, researchers like Dr. Simon Gilroy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will utilize this facility to carry out their studies.
When did NASA start growing plants in space?
The timeline of these space-based projects of space agriculture is as follows:
- Advanced Plant Habitat. It commenced its journey aboard the ISS in April 2017.
- Bion Satellites. That stary back in 1973.
- Biomass Production System. Which embarked on its mission in April 2002 aboard the ISS.
- Vegetable Production System (Veggie). And it took off in May 2014, finding its place aboard the ISS.
How does NASA help agriculture?
NASA Acres collaborates with various stakeholders within the agricultural domain to create data and tools derived from Earth observatories. These resources are aims at enhancing production levels. While protecting the land, water, the atmosphere, and human well-being.
What food did NASA grow in space?
NASA has achieved successful cultivation of plants. That includes lettuce and radishes, and has examined their reactions to the space environment in space agriculture research. This has a comprehensive analysis ranging from gene expression to even assessing the spiciness of the plants. NASA’s Plant Habitat-04 experiment further builds upon prior endeavors, extending to the growth of peppers within the confines of the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH).
What is the NASA Veggie program?
The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) stands as a plant growth setup developed and employed by NASA within the context of outer space conditions. Veggie holds a dual purpose: to furnish astronauts with a self-sustaining and lasting food source, while also offering a platform for leisure and relaxation through therapeutic gardening activities.
What is the Role of ESA in Space Agriculture?
On January 25, 2023, the European Space Agency (ESA) has a collaboration with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE). They held an event that united the research of space agriculture in space exploration and agri-food sectors. The goal was to collaboratively address common challenges and lay out a shared trajectory for progress.