Performance of the Advanced ASTROCULTURE™ Plant Growth Unit During ISS-6A/7A Mission 2002-01-2280
With the help of Space Product Development Program at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics (WCSAR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed the Advanced ASTROCULTURE™ (ADVASC) plant growth unit, which is dedicated to conducting commercial or fundamental plant growth research on board the International Space Station (ISS). ADVASC provides an enclosed, environmentally controlled plant growth chamber with controlled parameters of temperature, relative humidity, light intensity, fluid nutrient delivery, and CO2 and hydrocarbon (ethylene) concentrations. Auto-prime technology eliminates the need for electrical power during Shuttle ascent/descent, and therefore greatly relieves the shortage of Shuttle resources and ISS crew time. State-of-the-art control software combined with fault tolerance and recovery algorithm significantly increases overall system robustness and efficiency. Tele-science features allow engineers and scientists to remotely receive telemetry data and video images, send remote commands, and monitor plant development status.
A two-month successful experiment, 5/10/01 - 7/19/01, of growing Arabidopsis thaliana from seed to seed during the ISS-6A/7A mission has demonstrated that ADVASC is capable of providing desired environmental conditions suitable for Arabidopsis growth and development in microgravity, and that ADVASC is able to autonomously maintain chamber environmental conditions without crew intervention, despite power interruptions.