Feed-Back Moisture Sensor Control for the Delivery of Water to Plants Cultivated in Space 2005-01-2952
The development of a spaceflight-rated Porous Tube Insert Module (PTIM) nutrient delivery tray has facilitated a series of studies evaluating various aspects of water and nutrient delivery to plants as they would be cultivated in space. We report here on our first experiment using the PTIM with a software-driven feedback moisture sensor control strategy for maintaining root zone wetness level set-points. One-day-old wheat seedlings (Tritium aestivum cv Apogee; N=15) were inserted into each of three Substrate Compartments (SCs) pre-packed with 0.25–1 mm Profile™ substrate and maintained at root zone relative water content levels of 70, 80 and 90%. The SCs contained a bottom-situated porous tube around which a capillary mat was wrapped. Three Porous Tubes were planted using similar protocols (but without the substrate) and also maintained at these three moisture level set-points. Half-strength modified Hoagland’s nutrient solution was used to supply water and nutrients. Results on hardware performance, water usage rates and wheat developmental differences between the different experimental treatments are presented.