We are building chambers for tomatoes to grow in space. The aim is to give food to astronauts going to Mars.
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.
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 potentially tomatoes, lettuce or corn salad. 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 Prototech is the Technical coordinator for a consortium of European institutions and companies developing the successor to the plant cultivation chamber and its supporting systems through the EU H2020 programme. An advanced breadboard that allows for larger crop plants with greatly improved plant health monitoring and water nutrient systems is being developed. The project is called TIME SCALE, click here for more information.
EU Horizon 2020