In “Hydroponically Growing a Holistic Superfood Diet for Mars Exploration,” Project H.O.M.E. members analyze how to provide future astronauts with a complete, balanced diet on a planet that does not r..
In “Hydroponically Growing a Holistic Superfood Diet for Mars Exploration,” Project H.O.M.E. members analyze how to provide future astronauts with a complete, balanced diet on a planet that does not receive as much sunlight as Earth. Sending massive amounts of food into space is incredibly expensive, takes up valuable spacecraft area, and is overall not a feasible way to provide astronauts with sustenance. Project H.O.M.E. has thus developed a hydroponic system to evaluate the growth and yield of various superfoods - including Moringa Oleifera, goji berries, and kale - under simulated Mars lighting conditions. Based on the hypothesis that the growth of the superfood plants in simulated lighting conditions will be similar to their growth in regular lighting conditions here on Earth, Project H.O.M.E. members evaluated Dutch bucket, tower garden, and nutrient flow table indoor hydroponics systems to grow foods that contribute to a complete set of nutrients. Data suggests that these three plants are perennial hydroponic crops, which can be grown under reduced illumination, and are candidate food sources for Mars explorers. Currently, a solar powered 8x16ft greenhouse is being used to hydroponically grow the selected superfoods. In the past 13 months, Project H.O.M.E. has utilized natural light with shading cloths covering the greenhouse to simulate the reduction of light on Mars. In conclusion, this project determined that the growth of superfoods using hydroponics systems would be a preferred farming method for space, demonstrating the incredible potential for future missions to Mars.