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Solar Food Production and Life Support in Space Exploration

Takashi Nakamura
Human Exploration & Destination Drivers
Delivered As: 
Abstract Text: 

Long duration space travel and settlement in planetary colonies will ultimately require plant production systems to provide food and bioregenerative life support. Plants would be useful for transit missions, where a relatively small crop growing system could provide fresh vegetables and fruits to supplement crew’s diet and provide a source of bio-available nutrients, which may be an important counter measure for radiation exposure. Larger plant production systems (e.g., habitats and planetary bases) provide these benefits along with a greater life support capability of atmospheric regeneration and water processing. Lighting is one of the most critical enabling technologies for plant production in human exploration missions.

For the last several years NASA has supported development of an innovative solar plant lighting system called Optical Waveguide (OW) Solar Plant Lighting System. In this system, solar light is collected by reflector optics and only the wavelengths useful for plant growth, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR: 400 nm 700 nm) are not reflected by the dichroic PAR reflector and are directed to the energy conversion device such as photovoltaic (PV) cells for electric power generation.

This presentation will discuss the effectiveness of the solar plant growth system, the size and the weight of the system, and the overall impact on the solar plant growth system on food production and life support in human exploration missions.

B. Patti
SSERVI Identifier: 

Recognizing that science and human exploration are mutually enabling, NASA created the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to address basic and applied scientific questions fundamental to understanding the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and the near space environments of these target bodies. As a virtual institute, SSERVI funds investigators at a broad range of domestic institutions, bringing them together along with international partners via virtual technology to enable new scientific efforts."