Extraterrestrial Farming with the Leafy Green Machine – LED Performance Testing
Amaninder Singh Gill
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Self-sustaining life support systems are critical for NASA to achieve its goal of deep space exploration. To satisfy the food requirement, NASA is exploring is extraterrestrial farming. One option for space grown produce is a hydroponic farm; Freight Farms offers a portable Leafy Green Machine (LGM). To apply this commercial product, several issues need to be explored to ensure that it is suitable for deep space farming. Phase One of adapting the LGM focuses on the characterization of the LGM’s thermal and growing performance. This paper focuses on characterizing the performance of the Light Emitting Diodes (LED) currently used as the main grow lights in the LGM. Results of initial testing performed on the main grow lights suggest that these lights produce more heat than the HVAC system is designed to remove. Evaluations of the main grow lights’ performance indicate that they meet the required spectrum and intensity for chlorophyll production in plants. The thermal load of the LEDs could be decreased by cycling the lights.