ENEA: the hi-tech garden to cultivate on the Moon and the North and South Pole

A hi-tech vegetable garden to grow micro-green on the Moon and in extreme environments such as the polar ones, set up inside a special ‘igloo greenhouse’ designed to withstand very low temperatures. But also space missions simulated thanks to advanced immersive virtual reality techniques.

This is the challenge of V-GELM (Virtual Greenhouse Experimental Lunar Module), the experimental project that will start from tomorrow 10th July until 19th July in the Casaccia Research Centre with the aim of developing a lunar cultivation module combining innovative hydroponic cultivation techniques with virtual experiments to support astronauts’ lives in future long-term missions. The project will be carried out by a team of ENEA researchers and students from the Interdepartmental Centre for Building Restoration Environment (CITERA) and the Sapienza University of Rome and Tuscia and will be presented live streaming on Saturday, July 11 (11-12.30 am).

V-GELM has been selected among the best projects conducted by university teams from around the world as part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) IGLUNA 2020 mission, which will be presented today by the Swiss Space Center coordinator.

Specifically, the project is divided into two phases: the first phase involved students and researchers, in collaboration with Mars Planet Society, in the architectural and functional design of spaces simulated through immersive virtual reality techniques. In the second one, the innovative ENEA vegetable garden will enter the Hort3 field, where the hydroponic cultivation of two particular varieties of radish, Daikon and Rioja, will be experimented inside a particular tent called “EGG” for its particular egg shape, realized by the University of Milan.

“The virtual experiment allows to give back to the public a realistic and interactive perspective suitable to simulate the environments, to carry out ergonomic analysis. In this way it is possible to identify any critical issues from the outset and reduce the costs of developing space modules and the training time of astronauts”, highlighted by Luca Nardi of the ENEA Biotechnology Laboratory.

The module developed by ENEA as part of the Hortspace project, funded by the Space Agency Italiana (ASI), consists of a 1 m3 closed-loop multilevel hydroponic cultivation system with LED lighting where different species of micro-green vegetables are grown, specially selected to reach the ideal growth stage for consumption within 10-15 days.

“This is an above ground cultivation system with water recycling, without the use of pesticides and agropharmaceuticals, able to guarantee to the crew members engaged in space missions fresh food of high quality and correct nutritional contribution – explained Luca Nardi – without forgetting the psychological benefit given by the growth of the plants in confined environments, such as those of future extraterrestrial bases or even in extreme environments, such as hot and cold deserts”.


For further information:

Luca Nardi, ENEA – Biotechnology Laboratory, luca.nardi@enea.it

To follow the presentation of the VGELM project in live streaming click here 


Source: Media Office ENEA





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