ET - AGRICULTURE IN OREGON
And as learning lessons go, ET Agriculture has been at best a low-priority in space education, taking a backseat to the whiz-bang stuff such as propulsion systems and orbital dynamics. In the long run, it may well turn out to be the most important! The need for such a system for analog testing as well as educational use is essential for any long-term space adventure, whether on the Moon, in orbit or on the planet Mars.
The CEMSS Module is a joint project between the Oregon Public Education Network, (OPEN) and the Oregon chapters of the National Space and Mars Societies, the CEMSS project provides a hands-on multi-curricular approach to space education from a practical standpoint: The use of living systems to stay alive! This is a self-contained experimental package, designed to demonstrate the basic functions of a full-sized life support system, but with much less mass and no ecological impact. Likewise, it will provide a unique educational opportunity to observe the basic workings of bio-regenerative life support systems.
Two main elements comprise the CEMSS Module: a “mini-greenhouse” Plant Growth Chamber and a Mouse Habitat. Assuming a short-duration mouse mission (1 week), the plants will be germinated in advance, so the vegetable matter will be up and growing when the mice are introduced. Both chambers will be linked to one another via a series of fittings, vents, and fans to allow for the CO2/Oxygen exchange cycle, as well as a water recycling system. Otherwise, it will be sealed for the duration.
Water for the mice will come from condensation, collected from an attached thermoelectric HVAC system. The plant material will provide most of the food for the mouse, supplemented with vitamins. Both chambers will have a range of sensors to monitor variables such as CO2/O2 levels, temperature, relative humidity, pH levels, etc. Power for the system to run the pumps, sensors, and other electrical items will be provided by a 76 watt Seimens solar cell, attached to several deep-cycle marine batteries. Plants for the experiment will be grown from seed stock developed at Utah State University's Crop Physiology Lab, under a grant from NASA.