Testing the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) for ISS Plant and Cell Research 2005-01-2841
For experiments with plants and other organisms in microgravity, a facility with a life support and an observation system, both of them operating by remote control on a centrifuge rotor, is deemed necessary. This would enable the scientist on ground to study development and behavior of organisms under microgravity and different acceleration conditions in Space, also with the possibility of a permanent on-board 1-g control. ESA’s EMCS (European Modular Cultivation System) has been designed for these kinds of experiments, especially for long lasting plant cultivations from seed-to-seed. However, the experiment preparation, the design and testing of the experiment hardware and the ground reference need to be done in a ground model that accommodates all features of the flight model, but is adapted to the gravity conditions on ground. This model, called the ERM (Experiment Reference Model), was delivered to ESA in 2002 and has been submitted to extensive testing. Its performance has been compared to the existing EM (Engineering Model) and the FM (Flight Model), both delivered to ESA in fall 2004. Several tests were foreseen for the different EMCS models: technical performance of the entire system and its subsystems; biocompatibility test, especially of the life support system; long-term cultivation test with plants. This article provides a review of the results from these tests and the impact on biocompatibility and functionality are discussed.