If all these while, if you have been wondering how to start a living in the outer space, these robots are all set to help you with an answer! The costs and risks of astronauts growing food in Mars, or having it shipped from Earth have been a topic of discussion, for some time now. But, a team of graduates from University of Colorado are reportedly developing a food system for deep space and potential Martian colonies. The project successfully gained an entry in NASA’s eXploration HABitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge, and is called “Plants Anywhere: Plants Growing in Free Habitat Spaces.”
The project is based on two key components: SmartPots, or SPOTS. For growing plants, there is a Remotely Operated Gardening Rover, or ROGR, which travels around the extraterrestrial habitat tending to them. The system works like this: the SPOTS provide food plants with a small, custom-designed, individual hydroponic growth chamber. This is fitted with computerized sensors and systems to monitor each plant’s progress. The idea is to have dozens of SPOTS dotted throughout a space habitat. Each SPOT can be adjusted for light, temperature, pH and humidity to suit the plant as it grows, and water is recycled through the unit. The feedback from the SPOTS is relayed to ROGR, who will come and tend to a plant’s needs as required. ROGR is a robot on wheels with a mini forklift on front, so it can move SPOTS if necessary too.
In a video, team member Heather Hava said, “ the system is going to be testedin Antarctica over the Southern winter. The isolated environment endured by researchers who overwinter there is very similar to the conditions that Martian colonists would experience.” It is also commendable, that University of Colorado Boulder also is among five universities selected by NASA for the 2015 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge.