When we first made the claim that we wanted our systems to be able to be installed anywhere, we had grand visions that perhaps one day, InvertiGro grow modules would feed man on the moon - so we are of course over the moon that our systems have already been to Mars!
Sensoria set us a challenge: to design an automated vertical garden suitable for the demanding conditions of a space habitat where water, power, physical space, and crew time are precious. The AeroCube (an adaptation of our InvertiWall product) was developed with these criteria at its core.
It was of course with enormous pride that we rose to that challenge to be selected for the Sensoria Mars Simulation (in partnership with NASA JPL) at the Hi-Seas (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog + Simulation**) base in Hawaii earlier this month.
“Due to the very restrictive power and water allocation for the mission it was critical that the system be highly efficient. InvertiGro was the solution that met all of our needs ... It is robust, customisable and represents the cutting edge in modern automated hydroponics."
Dr J. J. Hastings, Commander Sensoria.
In addition to providing nutritious fresh produce for the mission crew, the AeroCube also presented the mission with some other unexpected benefits:
“The crew is noticing the particular benefit of having our AeroCube garden from InvertiGro, as it offers a comforting similarity to the full spectrum of Earth daylight and its burgeoning microgreen garden that offers a stark contrast to our dry, red Martian landscape”
Sensoria Commander’s Log 11 Jan 2020
The success of this project was a huge testament to our systems’ ability to grow nutritious fresh produce in an environment where water, power, physical space and crew labour time are all limited – and whilst we now focus on delivering the same benefits to InvertiGro farmers back on Earth, we look forward to returning to space again some day.
** The purpose of the detailed HI-SEAS research studies is to determine what is required to keep a space flight crew happy and healthy during an extended mission to Mars and while living on Mars. Research into food, crew dynamics, behaviours, roles and performance, and other aspects of space flight and a mission on Mars itself is the primary focus.
"These simulation missions are meant to be an opportunity," Hastings said, "to solve some of the problems that we still have in understanding how to make space sustainable. And as anyone who works in the space sector knows, everything we do to solve for space solves for Earth." In other words, by studying and developing solutions to common space problems, researchers can then apply those solutions to similar challenges here on on Earth.