Optimizing a Plant Habitat for Space: A Novel Approach to Plant Growth on the Moon 2003-01-2360
Viability of bioregeneration for life support – providing food, water and air – on long-duration missions depends critically on cost of the plant habitat and on plant productivity in this habitat. Previous estimates, e.g. Drysdale and Wheeler, 2002 of both cost and productivity have been made using existing chamber designs, in particular the BIO-Plex (Bioregenerative Planetary Life Support Systems Test Complex) Plant Growth System intermediate design review (IDR) design. However, this design was developed for a terrestrial testbed, and is not optimized for use in space, much less for a particular space environment. Nor has productivity been determined experimentally for this configuration.
We have examined this design and updated it for use on the Moon, with 709-hr days (light / dark cycles), using both natural and artificial light. Each system within the plant habitat was evaluated and modified to some extent for the desired use. Plant productivity was estimated for the expected conditions. Cost impact was calculated using equivalent system mass (ESM). Major improvements are likely by using natural sunlight during the Lunar day and a reduced level of artificial light during the Lunar night.