Tomatoes in space

We are building chambers for tomatoes to grow in space. The aim is to give food to astronauts going to Mars.

Tomatoes in space

Project manager Bjarte G. B. Solheim will do research here on the Earth to find a good technical solution. (Photo: Rune Nilsen, BT)

It started already in 2005. CMR, through our subsidiary Prototech AS, was involved in the MULTIGEN-1 project. The objective of this project was to find out how plants behave in weightless conditions. In addition to study whether the seeds the plants produced were viable, the project also wanted to solve a riddle unanswered since Charles Darwin; does the fact that almost all plants grow in spiral patterns have anything to do with gravity? To find this out, sophisticated equipment was required, which is why Prototech started developing the world's most advanced flowerpot.

The project also wanted to solve a riddle unanswered since Charles Darwin.

This was an 'intelligent' flowerpot. The plant grew inside a closed system, and being in space, the effect of gravity can be eliminated. The flowerpot itself was no bigger than a milk carton, and thanks to extremely advanced mechatronics it was possible to control light conditions, as well as air and water supply. Furthermore, gravity can be simulated when necessary. It has all been designed to provide optimal growth conditions as accurately as possible.

16 of these special constructed flowerpots were produced. Now we are going on with the tomatoes. Building new equipment for them. The vision is to produce food in space, allowing us to embark upon journeys to more distant planetary destinations.

 

CMR's flowerpots have been developed in collaboration with the Plant Biocentre Group at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the Department of Physics at NTNU, EADS Astrium and ESA.