Current Setup I currently have all plants on the first floor of the GreenHab under our one grow light. We are growing 27 spinach seeds for Crew 173’s hydroponics experiment, I have just recently planted onion and lettuce for future crews, and are continuing the growth of all Crew 171’s plants for future crews.
GreenHab Update The heater is still not working and temperature swings are still too much for plants to handle. It was 105 yesterday at 1PM in the GreenHab just from solar heating. So it seems nearly certain that the A/C and heater must work in conjunction even in the middle of the winter.
GreenHab Facility Update and Recommendations: Heater is still not working. The GreenHab is more hospitable than outside but only slightly. Temperature last night inside the GreenHab was: 30F and temperature today was: 35F. On sunny days it is also getting too hot for some plants (even though the heater was turning off appropriately upon reaching set temperature). On Sol 4 it reached 105F in the GreenHab at 2:30. So until the heater and A/C are functioning I recommend keeping plants in the Hab or closely monitoring the weather and moving them accordingly. Another option is to move the grow tent into the Science Dome and keep the tent in there with the grow light, but this only allows for a very small amount of plants to be grown and could still be too cold. I will move the grow tent in there and measure temperature.
Plant Growth Update: Due to the heater no longer functioning I have moved the plants and a grow light into the Hab to keep the plants healthy. After 24 hours they are doing quite well on the first floor of the Hab and already responding well to the new grow light installation. I am beginning new growth for Crew 173. 20 spinach seeds planted in the growth matrix and I will post updates for Crew 173’s information as they develop.
Facility Update: The heater is officially working in the GreenHab now. The temperature inside the facility was 13 C when I left this afternoon at 4PM with an outdoor temperature of -2 C I’ve moved all the plants from the first level of the Hab into the area directly in front of the heater in the GreenHab, but still a safe distance away for their own well being and for fire safety. We shall see how they fare on this wintry night.
Other Notes: GreenHab inventory will continue tomorrow. Please reach out if you are a future crew member or GreenHab team member and would like any other information.
Temperature Issues: The heater has been turned off because it is only blowing room temperature air. It has been turned off from the breaker box in the GreenHab. All growth in the GreenHab is pending assistance from the contractor who is coming to help fix the heater; nighttime temperatures are currently too low for plant survival.
Other Notes: After the temperature in the GreenHab is regulated and at healthy levels for the plants the photoperiod in the Utah winter is too short for meaningful plant growth. Future researchers expecting to grow plants in the GreenHab during the winter should make sure they have grow lights. I currently have all my plants in the lower level of the Hab. I will report on the progress over the coming days.
Crop tending and data capture for the bioregenerative life support system research took a great deal of time today. Plant growth properties, size and number of leafs, pH/EC, and photos were recorded. Due to unforeseen issues with the GreenHab, data collection will need to continue after the duration of simulation at MDRS.
Today we have deemed efforts to utilize the GreenHab officially ineffectual; nevertheless, the day proved to be productive for the growth of our Martian cultivars within the crew quarters. Radishes, mystery crop (which we are beginning to believe is Turmeric), Red Oak lettuce and Green Oak lettuce varieties have been thinned and planted into canopy density experimental setups. The plant conveyor research continues, although rather languidly. All experiments using soil are duplicated using a hydroponic testbed for future evaluation of the similitude of plant growth properties with respect to nutrient medium.
There is not much to report from the GreenHab today. We have moved our experiments into the lower level of the Hab and will not be able to move them back into the GreenHab until the heater is functioning and we have control of the temperature. Ideally, we would like to be able to maintain the temperature between 70 and 80 degrees F at all times. In contrast, the low temperature last night was 26 F and peaked today at 93 F. Obviously, these are not conditions that are suitable for plant growth. The first step in once again regaining control of the temperature is to get the heater functioning again.
The germination front is going quite well! We saw many more seedlings sprout and now have confirmation that all types of species that we planted at the beginning of our mission have germinated. We are very excited to see the pinto bean, kidney bean, and popcorn grow up before the end of our mission. Over the next few days, we will be working on transplanting the more mature seedlings and providing them nutrients through hydroponics and soil as well as beginning data collection on the lettuce experiments.
We have some good news and some bad news to report from the
GreenHab today. As is customary, bad news first. It seems that the
heater in the GreenHab has stopped heating. We have been monitoring
the temperature both inside and outside the GreenHab since Sol 1 and
despite the warmer weather, the temperature within the GreenHab is now
within 5 degrees F of the outside temperature which is the closest it
has ever been. Inspecting the heater, it is apparent that it is just
circulating air and not performing any heating action. We are thus
taking actions to protect the plants by moving them into the living
habitat in order to prevent death. Now for the good news! Our
seedlings are doing great! In addition to the sprouts we reported
yesterday, we can now see that several onion, at least three popcorn,
and a pinto bean have germinated and will soon be ready for nutrient
and transplant. Hopefully we will be able to put them into the
aquaponics system by the time they are ready for transplant.
We are afraid the plants in the GreenHab may die. The temperatures
are just not favorable for plant growth. The GreenHab is too hot
during sunny days and too cold while the sun is obscured. The
GreenHab is not sealed well enough to stabilize the inside
temperature. Almost all of the plastic located inside of the GreenHab
has noticeable heat deformation making several of the items unusable.
Also, the seeds that were stored out there are not viable. The seeds
that we brought with us have germinated but no growth is being seen
from those supplied through MDRS, likely due to the heat they were
stored in. The heater is severely undersized to keep up with the
thermally inefficient GreenHab structure. Radish, lettuces and
mystery crop are germinating very well in the crew quarters.
Today marked the completion of the transplantation effort in the GreenHab. We have assembled eight total conveyor trays (four Red Oak Lettuce and four Green Oak Lettuce in both hydroponic solution and in soil) and one tray with a density experiment which was planted in soil. The slow process of sealing the GreenHab also began today. We have continued to notice that despite the near continuous operation of the heater, the GreenHab does not stay within an acceptable temperature range. At night, the temperature gets down to between 48 F and 54 F which is not conducive to productive and rapid plant growth that is necessary to sustain a healthy astronaut’s diet. In order to help prevent some of the theorized leakage of heated air, clear caulk is being used to seal the places at the top of the GreenHab where air could escape. This is a difficult process as the materials from which the GreenHab is constructed are clearly not meant to be used for a greenhouse. We are concerned there may not be enough caulk on Mars to seal the GreenHab. I hope future crews can figure out how to stabilize the temperature. Finally, the seedlings are germinating at excellent rates! We can easily identify growth in the radish, green and red oak lettuce, carrot, and mystery crop. Yay mystery crop!