The most important element of the EU H2020 EDEN-ISS project is the simulation of a one-year "space mission" on Antarctica, in preparation of future space missions. The business unit Greenhouse Horticulture of Wageningen University & Research has been involved in all preparations (from the design and dimensioning of the installations and necessary resources of the Future Exploration Greenhouse, through the selection of the crops, to the preparation of a crop handling manual for Paul, the space technician whose job is to produce fresh vegetables for the benefit of the "mission" crew.
The building blocks of the greenhouse arrived at the beginning of this year on Antarctica and, after assembly and testing, first crops were sown in the second half of February. In total there are now 10 people at the German station Neumayer III, completely isolated in the Antarctic night. In his growing task, Paul is assisted by an automated system developed by the bu Greenhouse Horticulture of Wageningen University & Research especially for this purpose, based on simple and inexpensive cameras. Components of the system are: evaluation of the growth rate, prediction of harvest time and timely detection of deviations. Only when necessary the Wageningen experts are alerted to evaluate possible actions that are discussed with Paul. In the meanwhile he has harvested almost 100 kg of fresh tomato, cucumber, lettuce, spices and radish. Go to EDEN-ISS for beautiful Antarctica images, explanation and for updates.
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