Space greenhouse successfully tested

More than a tonne of vegetables and lettuce, positive effects on the psyche and valuable experience in terms of time-saving operation: after a five-year test in Antarctica, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has expressed satisfaction with its "Eden ISS" greenhouse system.

"Eden ISS" is designed for growing food on manned long-term missions to the Moon and Mars. In the computer-controlled greenhouse module, vegetables, lettuce and herbs can be grown completely independently of the outside world under artificial light without soil. They are supplied via a nutrient solution in a closed system. Since 2018, it has been thoroughly tested at the German research station Neumayer III in Antarctica.

According to DLR, cucumbers, tomatoes, kohlrabi, radishes, lettuces and herbs were particularly successful. The cultivation of peppers, on the other hand, presented "a particular challenge", the research centre said. "Satisfactory harvests" were only achieved after some modifications and a change of variety. 

Good for the psyche

Research was also conducted on the psychological effects on the isolated crew of the polar station. Without exception, these were positive, as reported by Jess Bunchek, a researcher at the DLR Institute of Space Systems in Bremen, who herself worked for one growing season in Antarctica: "For the future, this means crews on remote missions should be able to grow their own crops to boost their mental and physical health."

Written by: sda

Photos: DLR

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