LED Grow Lights in Space:
NASA is pushing forward with plans to develop technology to grow fruits and vegetables beyond Earth in space. LEDs are used to grow the fruits and vegetables because this particular light technology is both effective and efficient. Due to the extreme nature of space, efficiency is vital. LED grow lights provide just the right blend of light wavelengths while minimizing power usage, heat production, and the amount of area needed to successfully grow fruits and vegetables.
Currently, LED grow light technology is being used by “space farmers” on the International Space Station. The use of this technology to grow fruits and vegetables is making headlines here on Earth as excitement grows regarding the potential ramifications of growing food in space. According to NASA scientist Dr. Gioia Massa, “The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be ale to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling and psychological benefits.” It turns out, LED grow light technology meets criteria to successfully grow in space.
The primary benefit of growing food in space is to provide nutrition for astronauts, but another benefit that is just as important pertains to the psychological aspects. Growing and eating food in space, that is like food grown and eaten on Earth, has a positive psychological impact on astronauts says NASA. Now that this technology exists, NASA plans on making improvements to it so that repeating the grow process in space is easy and materials are efficiently utilized.
The system that NASA has worked to develop for growing fruits and vegetables is called the Veggie Production System. NASA will continue to work with this system in an effort to reduce the amount of cargo that has to be carried on crewed deep space missions. Fruits and vegetables need to be produced in sustainable quantities and the parts and hardware need to be recycled once they are beyond their functional lifetime. For example, the plant pillows that are used in the process of growing plants are currently designed to be used only once. Scientists and engineers are trying to figure out a way to recycle or redesign these so that they can be functionally used a grow or potentially reused for more than one grow. It should also be noted that although the Veggie Production System and the LEDs are being developed to use in space, the technology will also be very beneficial here on Earth. LED technology for growing fruits and vegetables for personal home gardens continues to grow in popularity.