Growing Food for a Martian Table

2014 Challenge

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    Growing Food for a Martian Table – Integrating a Deployable Greenhouse with a Human Habitat

    Challenge Description

    Develop a conceptual design of a deployable greenhouse that could be used for pre-deployment on a space mission to the Moon or Mars. Consider what kind of habitat the greenhouse will be supporting and how it will interface with the habitat.


    For prolonged human missions to the Moon or Mars, non-perishable food supplies may be supplemented by regenerative life support systems, such as greenhouses, that produce food on the planet surface. These structures will be delivered, deployed, operated, and maintained in extreme environments. In addition, the presence of growing plants can have a positive psychological impact on explorers far from home.

    Solution Ideas

    Here are some ways for you to frame this solution:

    The design(s) could specify for which location the greenhouse is intended (e.g., Mars, the Moon), and include how the greenhouse would interface with the habitat to which it belongs, even if the rest of the habitat arrives after it. A concept of the habitat could be included (size, number of people supporting, lifetime, how it will be organized, intended mission, etc.); design of the rest of the habitat beyond the greenhouse and its interface to the habitat is not necessary.

    Desirable features of the greenhouse could include: small, stowage volume and mass; deployable upon landing; minimal resources for operations; run at low pressure (e.g., ¼ atmosphere to reduce leakage and structural requirements); pre-planted media or growing system; “priming” volume of water and required gases; recycle the transpired water back to the roots (i.e., close the water loop); thermal control system, including internal air recirculation; harvest and store oxygen generated from plants; and use in-situ resources (water, atmosphere, etc).

    Ideas to consider for greenhouse design: inflatable, robotic harvesting of the crops; one crop cycle per greenhouse and then shutting down; drying crops in place (e.g., wheat, soybean, or potatoes); replanting capabilities (i.e. more than one crop); retrieving water and/or oxygen in system prior to shut down; supplying carbon dioxide as plants grow; opening thermal covers in day and closing the covers at night (see Mars Greenhouse Data presentation); generating photovoltaic power capable of running control systems and/or opening and closing covers; viable as a kit for deployment in arid regions on Earth; if the habitat occupants can visit the greenhouse and harvest the food themselves; and functions the greenhouse could serve the habitat beyond food/oxygen generation and water purification. Consideration if designing for Mars: CO2 could be used as a pressurizing gas to offset leakage.

    Sample Resources

  • The following projects are solving this challenge:

    • S.O.O.G (Spatial O2 Generator)

      System of embedded space modul, in order to have an illimited production of natural oxygen. This unit comprises a green army of plants, selected on earth according to their power to generate oxygen and their ability to do photosynthesis. CO2 is rejected by space crew and absorbed by the plants in... Visit Project

    • Marvin's Lunchbox

      Moon or Martian colonists may take some time to set up more elaborate greenhouse facilities after they land, but a good supply of nutritious food and oxygen needs to be already waiting for them when they arrive. We're designing a little insulated box that can be deployed onto a relatively flat la... Visit Project

    • greenhouse on mars

      The design(s) could specify for which location the greenhouse is intended (Mars), and include how the greenhouse would interface with the habitat to which it belongs, even if the rest of the habitat arrives after it. A concept of the habitat could be included; design of the rest of the habitat be... Visit Project

    • Project Greenagent

      The project aims to achieve a modular, highly scalable, and expandable design with its target destination set to be Mars. Project features a structure that is going to be hold in place by internal pressure and is going to be expandable by integrating modular units together. The internal structur... Visit Project

    • GreenPod

      This project aims to achieve: 1. List of requirements and constraints 2. List of possible conceptual ideas 3. Design of feasible concept 4. List of open questions Please, check the project outcome from the project URL. Visit Project

    • EDEN: Extraterrestrial extenDable Environment for Nutrition

      We aim to capture the different mission parameters of this challenge by allowing the user to specify an greenhouse and simulate the effects of different environments. We hope to include lots of information about the science and technology aspects of the challenge and make the simulation entert... Visit Project

    • The Moon - Our New Home

      The general aim of that project is to solve the problem with creating a modular autonomous system in which the living organisms from Earth can withstand the unfavorable environment in the open space-lack of air and water, low gravitation, high level of radiation etc. The system will be self-... Visit Project

    • Space Greenhouse Program (Spagreem)

      This project aims to develop the concept of a greenhouse in Mars, capable of growing prickly pears in order to provide fresh foods for astronauts as a complement for the food supplies during space missions. The project will use a greenhouse in which all the conditions will be monitored (Temperatu... Visit Project


      El proyecto plantea un centro de alimentación, interacción y terapia para el ser humano en una superficie ajena a la del planeta Tierra basado en una atmósfera artificial, dicha atmósfera contara con un micro clima similar al Ecuatorial. Entonces, el micro clima va a verse protegido por una red d... Visit Project

    • CIBS (Crater Inserted Bio Sphere)

      Lightweight (under 1 ton) We use a crater in which the installation is deployed. The low weight is a result of the lack of hard walls a ceiling and the need for supports. The subterranean design also has the advantage of being immune to high wind speeds and sandstorms. Compact (less than 3 ... Visit Project

    • Martian Tomatoes

      The objective is to achieve the maximum number of agricultural cycles , through the optimal management of human waste. The capsule allows the human intervention on the planting and growing process of the food, helping in the mental health of the astronauts and reducing the amount of repairs for m... Visit Project

    • Green Mars: Don't Burn our Food!

      Green Mars at the 2013 Toronto Space App developed a conceptual model of a greenhouse for the martian surface. However, having large amounts of organic matter, many electronic and mechanical components, and an oxygen rich atmosphere generates a very likely risk of a smouldering fire. A smoulderin... Visit Project

    • Proyect GAIA

      El proyecto tiene como meta establecer una mini-base en la superficie extraterrestre que promocionara un cobijo, fuente de alimento y comodidad a los astronautas que sean destinados para misiones prolongadas. Nuestro grupo plantea la idea de crear una nave de despliegue interplanetario con auto ... Visit Project

    • Mayor-Domo

      Nuestro proyecto consiste en un domo semi subterráneo, aprovechando las grietas marcianas, que tenga la capacidad de recrear los ambientes necesarios para el crecimiento de frutas y vegetales que permitan la autosostenibilidad en Marte. Se cultivarían plantas lo suficientemente fuertes y nutriti... Visit Project

    • Starbuck

      Self-sustained greenhouse on Mars Visit Project


      A long time ago, in a contest far, far away... Star SALAD! Our Kryptonite Pirates set out to defeat Earth's monopoly over the intergalactic food industry! Armed with powerful materials, the latest in space technology, as well as their own engineering prowess, they tackle the problem at hand merc... Visit Project

    • HDMI greenhouse

      Our goals are to build a self-sustainable greenhouse, to conduct experiments on plant's behaviour for longer period and implement the latest research knowledge. We plan to achieve all that by implementing innovative and compact shuttle design, offering various options for seeds, having two ways o... Visit Project

    • Starbuck

      Making a self-deployable greenhouse which will satisfy the needs for the humans (the astronauts) who are going to temporary live on Mars. This project has a big influence on the outgoing missions on Mars. It produces fresh food like fruits and vegetables with the necessary nutrients which are ... Visit Project

    • Green Mars

      System scheme: System is composed of six hexagonal separate greenhouses, forming a ring, with seventh in center as main habitat for astronauts. Each of cells is devided into six triangules with other plant in each triangule. Three cells will be supporting six different plants, as the other three... Visit Project

    • From Moon to Mars

      The location of the mission is Moon. The site is approximatively the north pole of the satellite , in consideration of the better exposition to natural solar light, of the minor probability of impact by meteorites & Co., of the availability of ice. In particular, is intended to set the base into ... Visit Project

    • Food Growing Sphere for Mars

      Problem Statement Design a food supply habitat to withstand the Martian environmental conditions (temperature, radiation, windstorms) and can be controlled and monitored remotely. Conceptual Design Intended Mission Deployed a remote controlled module with protected grow chambers, hydroponic... Visit Project

    • Why The Future of Space Food is Crawling with Freshness

      The Case for Fresh Food in Space, the Moon & Mars (or, Why the Future of Space Food is Crawling with Freshness!) #1) It's already set in motion! First plant grown specifically for consumption will go up tomorrow: Monday, April 14, 2014! ... Visit Project

    • Curiosity

      Our project aimed several solutions and expectations of a greenhouse in Mars. We didn't create a 3d Model but we implemented a conceptual design wich makes availible the Greenhouse to be functional.The Greenhouse it is consisted of several systems i.e water recycle system,thermal system, air re... Visit Project

    • Hexafield project

      Hexafield Project has been developed by a team of four students in Architecture and Design. We genuinely enjoyed working on the NASA Space Apps Challenge and we were able to use our modeling, design thinking and analytical skills to develop prototypes, detailed plans and 3D models and renderings.... Visit Project

    • Hexafield

      Hexafield Project has been developed by a team of four students in Architecture and Design. We genuinely enjoyed working on the NASA Space Apps Challenge and we were able to use our modeling, design thinking and analytical skills to develop prototypes, detailed plans and 3D models and renderings.... Visit Project

    • Invernadero en Marte

      Básicamente este invernadero es capas de ensamblarse automáticamente sin ayuda directa, desde el momento en que aterriza en la luna o Marte se prepara para iniciar su proceso de crecimiento de vegetales hasta el momento en que sean cosechadas, incluso el robot en su interior hace toda la labor y ... Visit Project

    • Green edge of the future biodome (GEFB)

      The Green Edge of the Future Biodome works with solar energy and all the process is connected with the micro Algae (Arthrosperis Maxima, Chlorella acutus, and Schenedesmus Dimorphus), The photobioreactor using Insitu resources from the Martian soil and collecting the CO2 from the Martian atmos... Visit Project

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