Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Antarctic Greenhouse Produces Record Harvest in Simulated Mars Environment

  The Antarctic greenhouse EDEN-ISS has successfully braved the continent's brutal winter and has produced a record harvest that could pose as a successful model for future manned missions to the Moon and Mars.
  After more than half a year of operation in Antarctica, the greenhouse has produced 77 kilograms of fresh lettuce, 51 kilograms of cucumbers and 29 kilograms of tomatoes in about 13 square metres of cultivation area. However the problems were not completely absent as strawberries and peppers were harder to grow due to the challenge posed by artificial pollination.
  During harsh conditions such as winter storms, the crew was unable to make the 400-metre outdoor trip from the Neumayer Station III to the greenhouse. Under these circumstances, the control centre took complete responsibility of monitoring and supervising the greenhouse. However, the presence of humans on site was evident at many times. “On one occasion, for example, I had to go to the greenhouse quickly because a screw had come loose in the thermal system, and the lamp cooling was no longer sufficiently ensured," said German Aerospace Centre research Paul Zabel.
 Throughout the experiment, it could not be denied that there was positive effect observed on the entire crew due to the accessibility of fresh produce. "We greatly value and enjoy the fact that regularly fresh salad, herbs and vegetables from the greenhouse enrich our diet. The positive effect is noticeable," said Neumayer III station manager Bernhard Gropp. Eberhard Kohlberg from the Alfred Wegener Institute, a logistics manager at Neumayer added: “Otherwise, the menu just consists of long-life products from the freezer and storage room.”
Image Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

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