The Performance of a Miniature Plant Cultivation System Designed for Space Flight Application 2005-01-2844
Constraints in both launch opportunities and the availability of in-flight resources for Shuttle and Space Station life science habitat facilities has presented a compelling impetus to improve the operational flexibility, efficiency and miniaturization of many of these systems. Such advances would not only invigorate the level of research being conducted in low Earth orbit but also present the opportunity to expand life science studies to outer space and planetary bodies. Work has been directed towards the development of a miniature Plant Cultivation Facility (PCF) capable of supporting the automated and controlled growth and spectral monitoring of small plant species such as Arabidopsis thaliana. This paper will present data on the design and operational performance of the PCF plant cultivation module, and the extent to which such a system may be used to support plant growth studies in and beyond low Earth orbit.