Growing Plants from SEEDS on Mars for Supporting Human Exploration



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46th International Conference on Environmental Systems


The paper presents the results of a study performed during the Project Work by students of the 7th edition of the International Master Course in SpacE Exploration and Development Systems (SEEDS), born from a collaboration of Politecnico di Torino (Italy), Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et l’Espace (ISAE, Toulouse) in France and University of Leicester in UK, with the partnership of European Space Agencies and Industries. The study focused on the design of a Martian permanent human outpost for the Mars Initial Expedition TOwards a New Era (MILESTONE) mission. The overall architecture supporting the mission has been studied and among the building blocks identified and designed, a Green House module has been conceived. The objective of the GH project was to design a plant growth facility to be integrated in a bio-regenerative life support system. Several trade-offs have been performed to evaluate possible design architectures, according to the philosophy of a common structure for all the modules of the outpost, considering the cultivation methods, the crops selection and the diet composition. Growth substrate, lighting, pressure, temperature, atmosphere composition, waste treatment and robotic assistance have been analysed, adopting environmental safety, robustness, maintenance easiness and effectiveness as figures of merit. From the results of the trade-offs different options of diet/crop combinations have been evaluated, starting from the FARM study of a greenhouse able to fulfill almost all the nutritional needs of the crew, scaling down in order to reduce the cultivated area without compromising the health of the crew, also considering integrations from Earth. For the conclusion of this study, the module design concept, its main features and its integration inside the overall outpost architecture has been assessed, considering not only mass and power as figure of merits, but also crew psychological aspects and possible further expansions of the GH.


Politecnico di Torino
Thales Alenia Space - Italia
ICES204: Bioregenerative Life Support
Vienna, Austria
Marco Volponi, Thales Alenia Space Italia, Italy
Jacopo Pisacreta, Thales Alenia Space Italia, Italy
Cesare Lobascio, Thales Alenia Space Italia, Italy
The 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Vienna, Austria, USA on 10 July 2016 through 14 July 2016.


greenhouse, Mars, SEEDS, MILESTONE, plant, bioregenerative life support, diet, outpost