NASA's Prototype Lunar Greenhouse For Mars And Moon

NASA's researchers are working hard to develop an inflatable greenhouse, called the Prototype Lunar Greenhouse, for crops as well as air revitalization and water recycling.


(NASA's inflatable greenhouse)

The prototype involves an inflatable, deployable greenhouse to support plant and crop production for nutrition, air revitalization, water recycling and waste recycling. The process is called a bioregenerative life support system...

NASA scientists and engineers are developing systems to harness resources such as water that should be available in certain areas of the lunar or Martian surface to support missions lasting for months or years.

"We're mimicking what the plants would have if they were on Earth and make use of these processes for life support," said Dr. Gene Giacomelli, director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona. "The entire system of the lunar greenhouse does represent, in a small way, the biological systems that are here on Earth."

A professor in the University of Arizona's Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department, Giacomelli explains the next big step is to use additional lunar greenhouse units for specialized testing to ensure the system being developed will adequately support a crew of astronauts working on the moon or Mars.

"We will develop computer models to simulate what we're doing to automatically control the environment and provide a constant level of oxygen," he said.

Once a good idea, always a good idea. In his 1951 story Asteroid of Fear, Raymond Z. Gallun describes in detail an inflatable garden for space:

Now he started unrolling great bolts of a transparent, wire-strengthened plastic. Patching with an adhesive where explosion-rents had to be repaired, he cut hundred-yard strips, and, with Rose's help, laid them edge to edge and fastened them together to make a continuous sheet. Next, all around its perimeter, he dug a shallow trench. The edges of the plastic were then attached to massive metal rails, which he buried in the trench.

"Sealed to the ground along all the sides, Honey," he growled to Rose. "Next we fit in the airlock cabinet, at one corner. Then we've got to see if we can get up enough air to inflate the whole business. That's the tough part—the way things are...."

After the massive airlock was in place, they attached their electrolysis apparatus to the small atomic battery, which had been used to run the well-driller. The well was in the area covered by the sheet of plastic, which was now propped up here and there with long pieces of board from the great box. Over their heads, the tough, clear material sagged like a tent-roof which has not yet been run up all the way on its poles.

Technovelgy readers also recall the martian saw grass from engineer/sf writer George O. Smith's 1942 classic QRM - Interplanetary, which uses the idea of plant revitalization of air for astronauts.

Via NASA.

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