UH students test award-winning growing system at NASA habitat
VIDEO NEWS RELEASEUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Spokesman, Director, UH Office of Communications
Brent Suyama, (808) 492-0597
Associate Director, UH Office of Communications
Link to video and sound (details below): https://bit.ly/2QynwE0
WHAT: A prototype of an automated hydroponic growing system called Box Farm, designed and developed by University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa students, was successfully tested at a NASA habitat.
WHERE: Box Farm was tested at the NASA-funded Inflatable Lunar-Mars Habitat at the University of North Dakota. One of the five modules in the habitat contains a lab for conducting experiments on growing plants to supplement the diet of space explorers.
WHO: The team was comprised of four senior UH Mānoa mechanical engineering students.
WHEN: The team was in North Dakota May 16–24, 2019.
WHY: The goal was to cut down on the time researchers spend tending to plants in space. The University of North Dakota says raising and tending to plants is expensive and can occupy up to 60 percent of a crew’s time. Box Farm can also help to advance autonomous greenhouses for food sustainability on Earth.
HOW: The proof-of-concept testing showed the individual tasks that Box Farm could do within the NASA habitat environment. The robotic plant growing module can be scaled up to take care of hundreds of plants, essentially automating the entire growing process.
Team members say they are starting a company to commercialize agricultural technologies.
The Box Farm team won first place at the UH Mānoa College of Engineering Francis J. Rhodes Montgomery innovation competition in April.
The students’ research focused on robotics, image processing, sensor systems, botany, interplanetary communication and autonomy. They also designed and printed custom planters, etc., in 3-D for the Box Farm system.
BROLL: (1 minute 27 seconds)
0:00-0:51, 7 clips: the Box Farm hydroponic growing system operating
0:51-0:57: timelapse of set up of the Box Farm
0:57-1:03: space suits in the habitat
1:03-1:15, 2 photos: group shots inside of the North Dakota Human Spaceflight Laboratory
1:15-1:27, 2 photos: external shots of the North Dakota Human Spaceflight Laboratory
Gabor Paczolay, UH Mānoa engineering student (12 seconds)
“Honestly we were so busy today that I never thought about the fact that we were inside a habitat, much less so a Martian one. Just another day at the office putting our system back together.”
Pablo de León, University of North Dakota Human Spaceflight Laboratory director (24 seconds)
“My first look at it is that it is excellent work, very well designed and mechanically very sound, using state-of-the-art technology in some cases. I can tell by the way it is designed and the way mechanical problems have been solved.”
de León (18 seconds)
“I think this is the future. I’m not one of those people that thinks robots OR humans. I think there will be a collaboration between robotic systems and human systems for the future exploration of space and this is an example of that.”