Growing Beyond Earth

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, in Miami Florida is partnering with researchers and engineers at NASA to improve food production technologies for long duration space travel. Together, we’re calling on makers across America to submit new designs for gardening systems to be used aboard spacecraft. responding to plant stress, future systems might be able to do these things by themselves. Fully autonomous systems could support food production without any human assistance.

The Problem

During crewed missions in space, astronauts have busy schedules with many demands on their time and attention. The plant growing systems aboard spacecraft should minimize the need for hands-on maintenance. Although existing systems now require human intervention for watering, adjusting lights, modifying airflow, and responding to plant stress, future systems might be able to do these things by themselves. Fully autonomous systems could support food production without any human assistance.

 

The Challange

Design, build, and test an autonomous system that can support plant growth without human intervention. Develop a smart system that might include sensors, cameras, and automated controllers for lighting, watering, and air circulation within a 50 cm cubic growing environment. Plant seeds of one or more of the predetermined plant varieties by hand, and grow them without any further human interaction over a 30 day period.

Year 1

The first year challenge focused on the optimal volumetric use of the 50cm cubic growing
chamber.

Year 2

The second year challenge focused on the automation of plant growth via sensors and systems.

Judging & Judges

While judging will solely be based on the year 3 objectives of automated planting and harvesting systems, the design must include the elements of the first two challenges (volumetric optimization of plant growth and automated systems) using your own design or referencing one of the designs in the previous submissions. Projects that build on an existing platform must link and credit the original team’s design in their proposal and presentation. This challenge is open to High School, College, and Professional teams. 5 Finalists will be selected from each track to refine their designs and submit to be the winning entry.

Dr. Gioia Massa

NASA Plant Research

Trent Smith

NASA Procurment

Ralph Fritsche

NASA Veggie Project Manager

Team Categories

High School

Collegiate

Professional

Submission Requirements

Judging will be scored based on:

Your project submission must include:

Finalists' Submissions

The top five teams from each category will be selected to continue to the second phase and will receive $500 to cover the build costs of their final prototypes. Finalist teams from each category will present at NOMCON 2022!

Finalist Requirements

Timeline

October 21, 2021

7:00 pM EST

November 18, 2021

7:00 PM PST

January 27, 2022

7:00 PM PST

February 17, 2022

7:00 PM PST

March 3, 2022

TBD

March 24, 2022

TBD

May 12, 2022

TBD

June 1, 2022

11:59 PM EST

Stay Informed & Submit

Register for the Webinars

High School Submission

Collegiate Submission

Professional Submission

This project is based upon work supported by NASA under award No 80NSSC18K1225. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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