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Plant Breeding in Space

NASA Researches Plant Growth with Osram Light System

08. Juni 2018, 07:20 Uhr   |  Markus Haller

NASA Researches Plant Growth with Osram Light System
© NASA

NASA's food production research department uses Osram plant lighting. They want to use the results for food cultivation on the ISS.

NASA is researching the cultivation of lettuce crops in space. For soil research, it uses Osram's networked plant light system »Phytofy RL«. The aim is the precise control of growth and harvest time by the lighting. The light parameters determined will then be used in the ISS.

NASA maintains several greenhouses at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for research into food production in space.The control of plant growth and plant development via lighting is of interest. Depending on the composition of the light spectrum, the intensity and the selected times for illumination, the taste and vitamin and nutrient content of a plant can also be changed.

Research Lighting System for Plant Growth

Kennedy Space Center der NASA zur Erforschung der Lebensmittelproduktion.
© NASA

In a growth chamber at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, NASA determines lighting conditions for optimal plant growth with a modular research lighting system from Osram.

NASA uses Osram's plant light research system »Phytofy-RL« to investigate the exact parameters. According to the manufacturer, it differs from commercially available systems by its high photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) and an extra channel for UV light, via which the reaction to short UV radiation can be tested.

In addition, the system automatically calculates the irradiation image. Separate plant illumination intensity measurements before each change of light settings are no longer necessary. This reduces the measuring effort.

NASA is currently using the system in a growth chamber in the Kennedy Space Center and plans to transfer the system to one of the walk-in plant rooms there in the near future. The light parameters determined here are to be used in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) on the International Space Station ISS.

Product Development with NASA - Mass Production in 2019

The lighting system is not yet available as a series product and can therefore not be found in any product catalog. As so often in such cases, the cooperation between the US space agency and Osram required an intermediary, in this case the company Hort Americas. It specializes in plant breeding and vertical agriculture and is also known in the research scene.

It was the first point of contact to which the Research Department for Food Production turned with its list of requirements and gave the reference to the Osram technology.

Together with NASA, the system will be further developed – also with a view to terrestrial gardening, announces Steve Graves, head of the Urban & Digital Farming Program within Osram's US innovation department. It is to be available as a series product within the coming year.

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Osram GmbH, NASA Headquarter