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  • Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EDEN ISS (Ground Demonstration of Plant Cultivation Technologies and Operation in Space for Safe Food Production on-board ISS and Future Human Space Exploration Vehicles and Planetary Outposts)

EDEN ISS Report Summary

Project ID: 636501
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EDEN ISS (Ground Demonstration of Plant Cultivation Technologies and Operation in Space for Safe Food Production on-board ISS and Future Human Space Exploration Vehicles and Planetary Outposts)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2017-07-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

A critical component of future human exploration to other worlds will be the sustainable supply of edible food for crew members without constant resupply from Earth. Developing innovations regarding food cultivation in closed-loop systems is an essential integral part to enabling future space missions.
A mobile container-sized greenhouse test facility will be built to demonstrate and validate different key technologies and procedures necessary for safe and nutritious food production within a (semi-) closed system. The plant cultivation technologies are going to be tested in a laboratory setting at the sites of the consortium partners. Subsequently, systems will be shipped to DLR in Bremen where they will be integrated thus accompanied by an extensive test campaign.
In October 2017, the complete facility will be shipped to the German Neumayer III Antarctic station. The station is operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute and has unique capabilities and infrastructure for testing plant cultivation under extreme environmental and logistical conditions. It is foreseen that the container-sized greenhouse of the EDEN ISS project will provide year-round fresh food supplementation for the Neumayer Station III crew.
The EDEN ISS consortium will design and test essential controlled environment agriculture technologies. An International Standard Payload Rack (ISPR) cultivation system will be applied which could additionally be used for potential testing on-board the ISS. A Future Exploration Greenhouse (FEG) will also be developed and focuses on testing technologies and operations associated with future planetary bio-regenerative life support systems (BLSS).

The EDEN ISS consortium is comprised of leading European experts in the domain of human spaceflight and controlled environment agriculture. Due to the necessity of validating key technologies for space greenhouses under mission relevant conditions and with representative mass flows, the EDEN ISS consortium has defined six objectives:

1. Manufacturing a space analogue mobile test facility
2. Integration and testing of an International Standard Payload Rack plant cultivation system for future tests on-board ISS and a Future Exploration Greenhouse for planetary habitats
3. Adaptation, integration, fine-tuning and demonstration of key technologies
4. Development and demonstration of operational techniques and processes for higher plant cultivation to achieve safe and high-quality food
5. Study of microbial behaviour and countermeasures within plant cultivation chambers
6. Actively advancing knowledge related to human spaceflight and transformation of research results into terrestrial applications

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

• Subsystem Development
All major subsystems were developed for successful plant cultivation in space and on planetary surfaces. The Atmosphere Management System (AMS), Nutrient Delivery System (NDS), and the Illumination Control System (ILS) were completed, but also the data handling, thermal, and power distribution subsystems were developed and built. These subsystems represent the essential systems for a controlled and optimized cultivation of plants. The hardware and software interfaces, flow relationships and performance outputs were calculated, partly simulated, and optimized.
Hardware acquisition was successfully completed and initial testing was carried out prior to subsystem delivery to DLR Bremen for integration into the overall production system.

• Mission Planning
The mission planning has reached a detailed level. Transport arrangements, customs regulations, and export control have been cleared so that the mission can be initiated on 2nd of October 2017. Essential procedures have been worked out and crew training was performed on all critical subsystems. Further training was executed with respect to scientific equipment and procedures, which shall ensure the high level of scientific output during the analogue mission. Furthermore, best horticulture practices were taught to the EDEN ISS crew in order to ensure the best possible harvest output. The newly built mission control center was opened during the reporting period and will function as central information and communication hub during the mission.

• Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT)
All systems were successfully integrated into the overall production system – the MTF. Following a detailed integration plan, all partners delivered their subsystems and integrated them in close collaboration in the DLR AIT team.
Furthermore, all systems were tested regarding their reliability and output performance. For that reason a dedicated Antarctic simulation unit was attached to the MTF for the adequate provision of thermal stability.

• Laboratory Testing
After the successful integration phase, essential test grow-outs were executed within MTF itself. Cultivation tests were also performed within multiple research laboratories of the consortium. Within the MTF testing phase the developed procedures were tested and steadily optimized for future use during the Antarctic test campaign. Dedicated grow recipes were developed and tested.

• Outreach
The EDEN ISS facility is complete in its design and construction and is ready to be shipped to Antarctica to start its scientific mission! Outreach efforts have been aimed at bringing this information to stakeholders through a dynamic website, new downloadable Press Kit, and regular Facebook and Instagram postings. Tweets will follow once the mission in Antarctica has started. New high-quality images, an animation (final version 31.8.2017) and a TV-ready b-roll have been produced to illustrate our achievements and events, such as the press conference held on 7. July 2017, and the open house at DLR for the month of August (2017), have been organized to bring persons of the public and press to the facility, to see for themselves the authentic site of research activity in Antarctica. EDEN ISS give-aways such as a new project flyer and an embroidered mission patch have been created for promotional purposes.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The EDEN ISS project aims to provide several benefits:
• advancing the Technology Readiness Level to 6 of key technologies for plant cultivation to be deployed in future BLSS
• developing an ISPR cultivation system in preparation for future deployment on-board the ISS,
• manufacturing an in-situ plant production system to provide year-round fresh food supplementation for Neumayer Station III Antarctic crews
• enhancing yield per production area while minimizing energy and resource requirements
• utilizing the Mobile Test Facility and its integrated subsystems to analyse the overall biomass production, resource use and crew time in a highly integrated plant production module
• leveraging the idea-to-market capacities by facilitating the interaction between space actors with non-space actors as well as SMEs in order to strengthen European competitiveness in this field
• strengthening European research efforts within the BLSS domain while remaining complementary to present research initiatives

Terrestrial markets and applications, molecular farming and especially the present megatrend urban agriculture (e.g. vertical farming), will benefit from EDEN ISS in the following ways: full control of growth environment (increased resource efficiency), and improved food quality and safety control technologies and procedures.

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