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NASA inflatable greenhouse could feed astronauts on other planets

Kristin Baughman, Editor-in-Chief

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NASA collaborated with researchers at the University of Arizona to design an inflatable greenhouse, which can be deployed in space to offer a sustainable source of fresh vegetables.

Not only is this to provide astronauts with more nutritional value, but researchers suggest a psychological boost could occur from farming.

The prototype from this inflatable greenhouse was built as a “bioregenerative life support system”, meaning it has the ability to recycle waste, air and water. Carbon dioxide generated by the astronauts would assist the plants to generate oxygen through photosynthesis, and water flows through the roots and back to a storage tank, where it’s oxygenated and fortified in a constant cycle.

The greenhouses would likely be buried under soil to prevent radiation, and would require an artificial light source.

“We’re mimicking what the plants would have if they were on Earth and make use of these processes for life support,” Gene Giacomelli, director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona, said in a statement to NASA. “The entire system of the lunar greenhouse does represent, in a small way, the biological systems that are here on Earth.”

Further research will determine if the eighteen-foot-long, eight-foot-wide cylinders used in the prototype greenhouse could sustain a group of astronauts.

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NASA inflatable greenhouse could feed astronauts on other planets