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Commercial Plant Biotechnology Facility
 
The Wisconsin Center of Space Automation and Robotics (WCSAR), has partnered with Ames Research Center to develop space flight hardware to support their Commercial Plant Biotechnology Facility currently under development for use on board the International Space Station (ISS).

Fluorescent Light ModuleBenefit
The technologies developed for use in microgravity on board the ISS are transferable for future space missions involving human exploration. These subsystems are especially adaptable to environmentally-closed life support systems.

Image right: High output Fluorescent Light Module (FLM).

Background
A high output Fluorescent Light Module (FLM), and Environmental Chamber have been developed for the Commercial Plant Biotechnology Facility (CPBF). The CPBF is currently under development by the Wisconsin Center of Space Automation and Robotics (WCSAR), located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The purpose of the CPBF is to support commercial and scientific plant research in a microgravity environment on board the International Space Station (ISS). This is accomplished by providing an enclosed, environmentally-controlled life support system that controls temperature, humidity, atmospheric composition, lighting and nutrient delivery.
environmental chamberImage left: Environmental chamber with plant specimens grown under monolithic red/blue LED rays.

Fluorescent Light Module - To maximize the use of available resources provided on board the International Space Station, the development of an efficient lighting system is critical to the overall performance of the CPBF. Not only is it important to efficiently generate photon energy, but thermal loads on the CPBF temperature and humidity control system must be minimized. By utilizing optical coatings designed to produce highly-diffuse reflectance in the visible wavelengths, while minimizing reflectance in the infrared region, the design of the fluorescent light module for the CPBF is optimized for maximum photon flux, spatial uniformity and energy efficiency.

Environmental Chamber - The environmental chamber of the CPBF provides an airtight volume that prevents the plant growth environment from being affected by the Space Station’s cabin atmosphere, which typically has high levels of CO2 and trace organics.

The environmental chamber also provides thermal isolation from the ambient temperature to achieve effective control of the chamber. The environmental chamber also provides a glove box with one-level of containment allowing the crew to sample the plant specimens and to re-establish the experiments.