My Diary Growing Greens in Space!

WORK IN PROGRESS!!

In this instructables I want to explore how zero gravity can change how we grow plants.

This instructables is more a journey and a diary than an instructions set on how to build your zero gravity farm.

The plants don't have a way to understand what is "up" and "down", they follow light sources. For this reason they are very flexible and this feature can be used to better optimize space.

In the next few steps I'll discuss some possible designs and I'll pick the one that I like the most based on what I found is more important for happy greens.

Then I'll start building the design I like the most with some changes to allow it to work in an environment with gravity ( yup... I can't test it in zero gravity here on Earth ahahah)

Then I'll show my results (and hopefully eat a salad).

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Step 1: Design Criteria

In this step I'll show my goals for this project.

This step is very useful to recap all the information I found online to successfully and optimally grow some space plants.

The best design I can make is something that is able to reach all (or most of) the goals in this step.

For reference I'll use mostly the article "Plant Growth Optimization by Vegetable Production System

in HI-SEAS Analog Habitat" attached to this step.

Here are my goals:

  • have fun and make something creative
  • maximize edible mass in 50cm cube
  • make the plants happy
  • optimize water delivery
  • optimize light (wavelength, intensity, etc..)
  • have ventilation
  • humidity
  • use a suitable plant (Chinese Cabbage)
  • give plants enough space to grow (maximize plant's width to maximize plant's edible mass)
  • optimal nutrients delivery
  • foldable
  • ...cheap to produce!

Let's start with the designs I made!

Step 2: Design 1

Description: Plants in a central rotating structure

This design has 4 led panels on the internal sides of the cube. The front panel is open to allow the astronauts to operate the farm. The back panel hosts all systems to control the environment parameters inside the cube. The main component is the central apparatus. This component hosts 12 pillows full of dirt and nutrients where plants will grow. The bags are positioned on a central rotating pinion as shown in the first picture, off-centered from the 50x50 center to allow smaller plants a more direct light irradiation. The central structure will rotate to allow the plants to be always at the best possible distance from the light source as they grow. When a plant is completely grown the pillow can be replaced with a new one with a seed and all the nutrients already in it.
The central piece provides the water to the pillows with small needles. When a new pillow is placed in the slot small needles puncture the pillow and provide water.

Pros

  • cool looking
  • 12 plants growing at the same time
  • optimal distance preserved
  • easy water distribution
  • plants will be ready in sequence and not all at the same time
  • use the best available and standard pillow for the plants to grow in

Cons

  • very boxy looking (washing machine..)
  • not foldable for easy storage
  • moving parts

Notes

A possible alternative is to use a rounded led panel and not 4 panels on the sides of the cube. This could be beneficial for light diffusion and spaces (giving the corner to manage the humidity and ventilation).

Red surfaces are led panels

Step 3: Design 2

Description: Expanding structure

This design has 3 main panels. The upper panel has led and all the needed environment control units. The middle one has needles to water the plants through the pillows. The lower panel has leds. There are 2 groups of pillows where plants can grow, each group consist of 16 pillows, total 32 pillows. A thin film of plastic cover the structure making the environment inside easy to control.

Tubing and wiring brings water to the middle panel and power to the lower one.

The whole structure is smaller than 50cm X 50cm X 50cm and it adapts while plants grow.

When plants are small the whole structure compress and occupy less space.

When there are no plants at all the whole structure only occupy 15cm X 50cm X 50cm.

This design was inspired by the amazing work done in the article "Plant Growth Optimization by Vegetable Production System in HI-SEAS Analog Habitat" attached in step 2.

Pros

  • very cool
  • very small volume footprint
  • very efficient
  • up to 32 pillows at the same time
  • not complex moving parts
  • foldable
  • stackable
  • quite easy to build

Cons

  • moving parts
  • wiring needed for the lower panel

Notes

This design was inspired by the amazing work done in the article "Plant Growth Optimization by Vegetable Production System in HI-SEAS Analog Habitat" attached in Step 2.

Red surfaces are led panels

Step 4: Design 3

WORK IN PROGRESS!!

Step 5: The Design I Decided to Build

WORK IN PROGRESS!!

Step 6: Materials

WORK IN PROGRESS!!

Step 7: The Structure

WORK IN PROGRESS!!

Step 8: The Plants

WORK IN PROGRESS!!

Step 9: Final Result

WORK IN PROGRESS!!

Step 10: Thank You for Your Attention!

This is an unconventional instructables because it shows my journey in real time.

If you found some steps missing while reading return back later!

Hopefully I made something funny to read and watch

thank you for your attention!

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