Future astronauts en route to Mars or deep-space destinations will need specially designed living quarters and renewable sources of food — so this year’s X-Hab Challenge includes a remotely operated, robotically controlled space garden. Students at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University are developing a workable prototype “bioregenerative food system,” which they’ll deliver to NASA next summer.
NASA’s yearly X-Hab competition invites university teams to design deep space habitats and concepts that could someday be used by real astronauts. The designs often focus on space-worthy structural scaffolds, detailing vertical or horizontal building layouts that could survive the harsh environment on Mars or the moon. This year’s contest includes a robotic garden, too.
The completed project will be able to grow, harvest and compost a variety of plants which astronauts can cultivate for food. The plants would also purify water and provide oxygen.