Portable Astroculture Chamber (PASC) - 01.09.14
Science Objectives for Everyone
Portable Astroculture Chamber (PASC) is a derivative of the Astroculture series of space flight hardware designed to meet the requirements of flying to the International Space Station (ISS). Understanding the effects of gravity on plant life is essential in preparation for interplanetary exploration. Being able to produce high energy, low mass food sources during space flight will enable maintenance of crew health during long duration missions while having a reduced impact on resources necessary for long distance travel. Applications of a plant growth chamber include using plants as components of regenerative life support systems for travel to the moon or Mars.
Science Results for Everyone
University of Wisconsin at Madison, Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics, Madison, WI, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)
ISS Expedition Duration
Previous ISS Missions
ADVASC the precursor to PASC flew on ISS Expeditions 2, 4 and 5.
- The International Space Station (ISS) provided an ideal laboratory for growing plants and studying the influence of gravity on plants that evolved on Earth.
- PASC is portable, small and light and consumes minimal power. PASC consists of two identical growth chambers with the objective of growing plants (approximate growth cycle is 75 days).
The objectives of the PASC investigation are: to determine whether plants are able to complete their life cycle (namely, from seed to seed) in a microgravity environment and to determine what the minimum requirements of a plant growth chamber are. Successful experimentation will provide valuable information concerning vegetable crop production in space. When the plants grown in the PASC are mature, the seeds will be harvested and brought back to earth for analysis.
Each PASC has a growing space which accommodates a shoot area of 252 cm2, shoot height of 17.8 cm, root area of 110.7 cm2 and root height of 3.3 cm. Water and nutrient delivery will occur by capillary mass transfer through rooting matrix via porous materials. The EXPRESS Rack system will allow for real-time data telemetry, remote commanding, and video (NTSC format) downlink. The crew will activate and deactivate PASC, as well as performing several maintenance activities as needed. Each chamber transmits health & status data and video to the ground and extracted seeds are returned to Earth. Operations
- Payload installation and checkout.
- The crew will monitor PASC every other day.
- There will be periodic removal of plant samples from the growth chamber.
Ground Based Results Publications
Zhou W, Zeltner W, Meyers RA. Advanced Photocatalytic Ethylene Degradation Technology to Support Plant Research in the Enclosed Environment. SAE Technical Paper. 2003; 2003-01-2610. DOI: 10.4271/2003-01-2610.
Link BM, Cosgrove DJ. Analysis of peg formation in cucumber seedlings grown on clinostats and in a microgravity (space) environment. Journal of Plant Research. 1999; 112(4): 507-516. DOI: 10.1007/PL00013907.
Link BM, Wagner ER, Cosgrove DJ. The effect of a microgravity (space) environment on the expression of expansins from the peg and root tissues of Cucumis sativus. Physiologia Plantarum. 2001; 113(2): 293-300. PMID: 11710397.
Zhou W. Advanced AstrocultureTM Plant Growth Unit: Capabilities and Performances. 35th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Rome, Italy; 2005
PASC hardware unwrapped. Image provided by Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics (WSCAR).
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