AstroGro: a modular 3D-printable garden pod for astronauts

Humans need to eat every single day, and that requirement puts an extra burden on space missions. Fresh food in space will be a necessity at some point, and dreamers have long developed ideas for how this could be achieved. One team in particular took those day dreams a step further and created a functional pod able to actually grow food, and though it can be used on our own crowded planet, it is made specifically for growing fresh food in space. Among many other things, it is scalable so that it can work in different environments, and it is modular.

It's called the AstroGro, and it is a smallish pod equipped with LED grow lights and a variety of other technologies to allow for maximum grow potential in space. The device was created as part of NASA's Print Your Own Food Challenge, which it tackled by developing a way to grow food rather than print edible food.

AstroGro is 3D-printed and features its own watering system, as well as a monitoring system that keeps tabs on the entire growth process to ensure it is adjusted as needed. Smartphone control is included, which lends access to things like temperature and lighting, and there's a system in place for recycling the organic waste byproducts.

The plastic itself is designed to be melted down and reused again for other products. Interesting enough, the AstroGro includes an radio frequency absorption measurement system, which involves a couple transceiver antennas operating at 2.45GHz and a directional transmitter antenna to measure the pod's energy absorption. If the absorption is high, the plant is healthy.

It isn't clear the maker's plans for AstroGro, but you can download the design files from its website if you're so inclined.

SOURCE: Gizmag