MONITORING PLANT GROWTH IN MARTIAN REGOLITH: DESIGNING A BETTER GROWTH CHAMBER
Using a comprehensive suite of environmental sensors, an automated water flow control system, and red/blue spectrum grow lights, the autonomously monitored grow chamber is designed to allow for controlled testing of plant growth in JSC-Mars-1A Martian Regolith Simulant, where the viability of plant growth in the Martian soil can directly be tested. This chamber reduces the impacts of outside influences by isolating the soil and seed samples from an indoor, room-temperature atmosphere. JSC-Mars-1A composition, reflecting sample analysis from the Viking missions to Mars in 1976, hints at a similar soil composition to Earth, albeit with the inclusion of heavily oxidized compounds. With the inclusion of bacteria in the system, the oxygen present in the soil will produce nitrates, providing the seed samples with the necessary nutrients to promote healthy growth. Monitoring soil conditions and plant growth will lead to further developments of growth chamber systems on a larger scale.