GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 50-12
Presentation Time: 4:35 PM


DOBSON, Matthew, Red Rocks Community College, 13300 . Sixth Ave, Lakewood, CO 80228 and MAHER SOBHANI, Barbra, Science, Red Rocks Community College, 13300 W. Sixth Ave, Littleton, CO 80228,

With the onset of increased public interest and future planned manned missions to Mars, the importance of logistical planning for sustainable food production in this hostile environment has grown considerably. Proving that the process of mild soil, light exposure and atmospheric conditioning will allow for healthy plant growth in Martian analog regolith could lead to improved sustainable plant growth for more responsible food production on Earth. One of the single most important hurdles in sending personnel to live on the Martian surface is ensuring the production of safe and nutritious food, using limited resources. Techniques for developing food in diverse environments are also becoming a necessity with our changing modern climate and weather patterns, and research within this field, even when applied to plant growth in Martian soil, may have impacts with research here on Earth. Therefore, an autonomous growth chamber has been designed and tested for effectiveness on a small scale.

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.

  • Monitoring Plant Growth in Maritan Regolith.pptx (25.9 MB)