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).
Commercial Plant Biotechnology Facility
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).
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.
Image 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
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.