EnginSoft and the European Space Agency investigate hydroponic plant growth for future space missions

EnginSoft has been collaborating with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the past ten years, working actively in the MELiSSA program. At present, this project’s main efforts concern the life support system sector and the idea of creating an artificially closed ecosystem that generates food and oxygen for space crews on longterm missions. The current MELiSSA Pilot Plant (MPP), built to monitor the progress towards the goal, is located at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. A 5-meter plant growth chamber, able to cultivate 100 plants and investigate their growth process, has been installed At the MPP, the Air and Canopy Subcompartment Analysis (ACSA) project was implemented to study the impact of airflow on hydroponically grown lettuce crops. Objectives The main objectives of this project were: – To improve the conditions in the growth chamber by reengineering the air management system; – To investigate the impact of airflow on plant growth. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Model of the system before the project The 5-meter plant growth chamber was replicated using a CFD model of the complete system. This model provided deep insight into the air distribution and the local environmental conditions around the aerial part of the plants