Advanced ASTROCULTURE™ Plant Growth Unit: Capabilities and Performances 2005-01-2840
Advanced ASTROCULTUR™(ADVASC) plant growth unit is a two Middeck Locker insert developed by the Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It has been developed to take advantage of plant research opportunities during the early assembly phase of the International Space Station (ISS) when the ISS resources and up/down mass availability are limited. ADVASC provides a large enclosed plant growth chamber. Control software provides precise control of environmental parameters in the plant chamber, including temperature, relative humidity, light, fluid nutrient delivery, and CO2 and ethylene concentrations. Auto-prime technologies eliminate the need for power during Shuttle ascent/descent, and therefore, greatly relieve the shortage of Shuttle resources and the ISS crew time. Although ADVASC is designed to operate autonomously, tele-science capabilities such as remote commanding, telemetry, and image/video transmission allow engineers and scientists to be able to remotely configure, monitor, and conduct on-going experiments as well as to remotely diagnose hardware operating anomalies.
Up to date, ADVASC has been used for conducting three plant growth experiments, with different scientific objectives, onboard the International Space Station during the missions of 6A/7A.1 (Inc.2), UF-1/8A (Inc.4), and UF-2/9A (Inc.5), respectively. Experimental results demonstrated that ADVASC is capable of stably providing desired environmental conditions suitable for plant growth and development in microgravity, and is able to autonomously recover its operating conditions from unexpected, severe power interruptions.