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XTreme gardening on Mars - UGent contributes in the development of life support units

24 April 2012 Ghent University

The plan for the future will be to grow first vegetables on Earth in a closed system, afterwards on the Moon and later in the spacecraft while traveling to Mars, and finally on Mars itself.

Space is an extreme hostile environment and science needs to come up with multiple innovative systems to protect life and to grow and nurturing plants or crops.

“With the ongoing climate change and increasing environmental problems, these new technologies can also be applicable here on Earth”, says Prof. Benedikt Sas from the Centre of Excellence Food2Know. The gained knowledge could be used to start growing food for our growing population in areas on Earth which currently are not suitable for food production. Prof. B. Sas continues “also companies on Earth can benefit from the space research. For instance, new energy efficient light systems can be developed and commercialized for growing plants in green houses.” Research on the production of potable water and nutrients will be covered by prof. Nico Boon and research in crop cultivation will be covered by prof. Danny Geelen.

The MELiSSA project, resides under ESA, and groups a large number of European organizations including universities and industrial world leaders.

The Belgian Federal Government is an important partner in the MELISSA project of ESA and strongly promotes the implementation of space research based innovations on Earth via industry.

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