Aquaponics in Space Aaliyah Greenman

For centuries the human species has had a dream to colonize the moon for the better of humanity. NASA has always had hope to achieve this goal and have been trying for years to find ways to feed a large population while on the inhospitable space environments. Since 1960 NASA has been able to grow plants in Space stations. This was the start to progress of colonizing space. Ever since NASA has been able to give astronauts nutrition from plants grown in space shuttles, they have been worried that astronauts have not been getting needed protein that the plant cannot provide. Without needed protein NASA is worried that astronauts will get muscle atrophy and will not be able to do important tasks.

In 2015 NASA released the lunar design engineering challenge to schools inspiring students to create solutions to problems facing astronauts. One problem facing NASA is transporting materials from earth to shuttles and planets. A solution proposed was that aquaponics can provide a reusable system that would not only feed people but clean water that can be used for growing plants. The system created would have to be able to withstand environments in space as well as being able to work in space shuttles. One system that stood out the most in this competition was a system created by Atlantic County Institute of Technology.

The system that is currently at Atlantic County Institute of Technology uses a NFT aquaponics system (although not stated, images show the system is in fact an NFT system). Plants are placed in rock wool growing medium and are suspended from a cut pvc pipe (no specific plants were stated to be used in the prototype). The fish used for the prototype were bluegill fish. Due to the constraints of having a 45 gallon tank and the bluegill's small size, these fish were able to properly live in this small tank.

When and if NASA is able to use aquaponics in space they would most likely be combining their current aeroponics system being used in shuttles along with aquaponics. NASA has not yet found a fish species that will be able to withstand zero gravity but tests on microorganism are already being done to find the perfect fish for space farms. Growing leafy greens and lettuces through aeroponics and tending to fish astronauts will be able to get all needed nutrients while in space.

Aeroponics used to grow plants in space

Leafy greens being harvested for astronauts

CITATIONS

Dunbar, Brian. "Aquaponics." NASA. NASA, 20 May 2009. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

"Space-Age Gardening: Aquaponics, Hydroponics, and Aeroponics | Make:." Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers. N.p., 02 May 2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

Dunbar, Brian. "Progressive Plant Growing Is a Blooming Business." NASA. NASA, 23 Apr. 2007. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

Ingenito, Vince. "NASA Successfully Grows Lettuce in Space." IGN. IGN, 19 Dec. 2016. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

Dunbar, Brian. "Growing Plants and Vegetables in a Space Garden." NASA. NASA, 15 June 2010. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

Dunbar, Brian. "A Fish Friendly Facility for the International Space Station." NASA. NASA, 17 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

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