A Low Equivalent System Mass Plant Growth Unit for Space Exploration
The VEGGIE unit is a deployable, low-resource plant growth system that can provide a source of fresh food and crew recreation on long duration space missions. VEGGIE can be stowed in 10% of its deployed volume; a single middeck locker equivalent can stow 1.0m2 of growing area. To reduce complexity, VEGGIE utilizes the ambient environment for temperature control and as a source of CO2. The lighting subsystem uses LEDs that provide a minimum light level of 300 µmol m−2s−1, spectral quality control, and a long operating life in a low profile package. The root zone is a compressible fabric mat. Each VEGGIE module has 0.17 m2 of growing area and can be varied in height from 5 to 45 cm. The mass, including the lighting subsystem and root mat, is 4.7 kg. On the ISS, VEGGIE can mount in the aisle, or in an EXPRESS rack.