This larger prototype of the Advanced Plant Habitat System illustrates the complex maze of sensors, heaters, water tubes, and lighting that comprise the NASA System of fast-growing plants in the microgravity of space. Photo Credit: Jim Siegel / SpaceFlight Insider
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — One of many challenges of long-duration space travel is storing the necessary food and other supplies. Without a way to replenish supplies, a mission to Mars would have to be self-sustaining. One way of reducing the very large amount of food required for such a trip would be to grow some of that food on the way.
It’s unlikely astronauts would raise their own cattle as a protein source. However, NASA has initiated several projects to study the possibility of growing plants in space, plants that would provide a portion of the proteins, nutrients, and carbohydrates needed by astronauts during a trip that would likely last about two-and-a-half years.
This tray of microgreens in Florikan, grown in NASA’s Advanced Plant Environment Research facility at the Kennedy Space Center, reflects the typical varieties of crops expected to be harvested from special space-based agricultural chambers, such as the Advanced Plant Habitat System. Photo Credit: Jim Siegel / ...