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Vegetable Production System

From Astrobiology

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Cabbage growing in a Veggie unit[1]

The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) is a plant growth system developed and used by NASA in outer space environments. The purpose of Veggie is to provide a self-sufficient and sustainable food source for astronauts as well as a means of recreation and relaxation through therapeutic gardening.[2] Veggie was designed in conjunction with ORBITEC and is currently being used aboard the International Space Station, with another Veggie module planned to be delivered to the ISS in 2017.[2]

Overview[edit | hide all | hide | edit source]

Vegetable Production System for ISS being discussed
Zinnia flowers in Veggie

Veggie is part of an overarching project concerning research of growing crops in zero gravity. Among the goals of this project are to learn about how plants grow in a weightless environment and to learn about how plants can efficiently be grown for crew use in space.[2] Veggie was designed to be low-maintenance, using low power and having a low launch mass. Thus, Veggie provides a minorly regulated environment with minimal control over the atmosphere and temperature of the module. The successor to the Veggie project is the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), components of which will be delivered to the International Space Station during the Cygnus CRS OA-7 and SpaceX CRS-11 missions in 2017.[3]

in 2018 the Veggie-3 experiment was tested with plant pillows and root mats.[4] One of the goals is to grow food for crew consumption.[5] Crops tested at this time include cabbage, lettuce, and mizuna.[6]

Design[edit | hide | edit source]

A Veggie module weighs less than 8 kg (18 lb) and uses 90 watts.[7] It consists of three parts: a lighting system, a bellows enclosure, and a reservoir.[8] The lighting system regulates the amount and intensity of light plants receive, the bellows enclosure keeps the environment inside the unit separate from its surroundings, and the reservoir connects to plant pillows where the seeds grow.

Lighting system[edit | hide | edit source]

Veggie's lighting system consists of three different types of colored LEDs: red, blue, and green. Each color corresponds to a different light intensity that the plants will receive.[2] Although the lighting system can be reconfigured, the following table shows the default settings and their corresponding intensities in micromoles per second per square meter.[2]

Setting Red Blue Green
Low 120±10% 30±10% -
Medium 240±10% 60±10% -
High 360±10% 90±10% -
On - - 30±5%
Potential 550 150 100

In addition to this lighting system, Veggie also uses opaque bellows to obstruct external sources of light.[2]

Bellows enclosure[edit | hide | edit source]

The bellows enclosure controls the flow and pressure of air within the container. The bellows are made from a fluorinated polymer and connected to the lighting system at its top and a baseplate at its bottom. Power and cooling is provided to the hardware that powers the bellows by ExPRESS Racks.[2] Although the bellows regulate air flow and air pressure, temperature and humidity are left controlled by the surrounding environment of the Veggie module.[8]

Reservoir[edit | hide | edit source]

The reservoir of the Veggie module contains and provides water to the plant pillows in which plants grow. The plant pillows contain all other material such as fertilizer and seeds for the plant to grow. Seeds are oriented inside the sticky plant pillow so that their roots will grow downwards into the substrate provided by the plant pillow and that their stems will grow upwards outside of the plant pillow.[9]

Plants grown with Veggie[edit | hide | edit source]

The arugla-like lettuce Mizuna growin for Veg-03

The following plants have been grown using the Vegetable Production System:

Results[edit | hide | edit source]

In 2010, Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) performed operational tests of the Vegetable Production System with lettuce. The three lettuce cultivars that were initially planted yielded positive results, growing and being consumed in 14 days. The Desert RATS team reported uniformly positive psychological results from the test crew.[15] No substantial information has been released as of yet on the differences between the nutritional values of space-grown plants and earth-grown plants

As of August 2015, the Veggie system has succeeded in growing edible plants on the ISS.[9] Further, NASA has announced plans to launch a more advanced plant growth system named Advanced Plant Habitat in 2017.[2] No results have been recorded on the psychological benefits of the Veggie system in space.

References[edit | hide | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Griffin, Amanda (17 February 2017). "Cabbage Patch: Fifth Crop Harvested Aboard Space Station". NASA. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Massa, G. D.; Wheeler, R. M.; Morrow, R. C.; Levine, H. G. (2016). Growth Chambers on the International Space Station for Large Plants (PDF). 8th International Symposium on Light in Horticulture. 22–26 May 2016. East Lansing, Michigan. KSC-E-DAA-TN29529. 
  3. Herridge, Linda (2 March 2017). "New Plant Habitat Will Increase Harvest on International Space Station". NASA. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  4. "NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 February 2018 - Celebrating 10 Years of ESA's Columbus Module - SpaceRef". spaceref.com. Retrieved 2018-02-08. 
  5. "NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 February 2018 - Celebrating 10 Years of ESA's Columbus Module - SpaceRef". spaceref.com. Retrieved 2018-02-08. 
  6. "NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 February 2018 - Celebrating 10 Years of ESA's Columbus Module - SpaceRef". spaceref.com. Retrieved 2018-02-08. 
  7. "Vegetable Production System (Veggie) Project". TechPort. NASA. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Zabel, P.; Bamsey, M.; Schubert, D.; Tajmar, M. (August 2016). "Review and analysis of over 40 years of space plant growth systems" (PDF). LIfe Sciences in Space Research. 10: 1–16. Bibcode:2016LSSR...10....1Z. doi:10.1016/j.lssr.2016.06.004. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 ScienceCasts: Historic Vegetable Moment on the Space Station. YouTube.com. Science@NASA. NASA. 20 January 2016. 
  10. Smith, Steve (10 August 2015). "'Outredgeous' Red Romaine Lettuce, Grown Aboard The International Space Station, To Be Taste-Tested By Astronauts". Medical Daily. Pulse. Retrieved 19 April 2017. 
  11. Dean, James (29 December 2015). "ISS space flowers may need some help from 'Martian'". Florida Today. Retrieved 19 April 2017. 
  12. "NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 February 2018 - Celebrating 10 Years of ESA's Columbus Module - SpaceRef". spaceref.com. Retrieved 2018-02-08. 
  13. "NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 February 2018 - Celebrating 10 Years of ESA's Columbus Module - SpaceRef". spaceref.com. Retrieved 2018-02-08. 
  14. "NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 February 2018 - Celebrating 10 Years of ESA's Columbus Module - SpaceRef". spaceref.com. Retrieved 2018-02-08. 
  15. Stutte, Gary W.; Newsham, Gerard; Morrow, Robert M.; Wheeler, Raymond M. (17 July 2011). Operational Evaluation of VEGGIE Food Production System in the Habitat Demonstration Unit. 41st International Conference on Environmental Systems. 17–21 July 2011. Portland, Oregon. doi:10.2514/6.2011-5262. KSC-2011-091; 20110014431. 

External links[edit | hide | edit source]

This article uses material from Vegetable Production System on Wikipedia (view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikipedia logo