AstroPlant is hardware, software, and electronics as well as a great team, and a growing international community of hackers, farmers, scientists, geeks, students, and teachers. It is science, it’s food in space, it’s exciting, and a challenge. To sum it up, AstroPlant is more than just a piece of technology. This page will be updated along the way, so it also serves as a kind of update log.
As of November 2017, AstroPlant build status is as follows. Let’s start with the basics of what AP is not:
- AstroPlant is a closed environment, but not entirely controlled. It does not control temperature, CO2 or oxygen levels, humidity, or any other environmental factor other than light and air flow.
- AstroPlant is not built for maximum growth, it’s built for collaborative experiments and educational purposes.
Now, what then? In no particular order, this is what AstroPlant is or can do:
- It’s a hydroponics kit (the simplest method there is);
- With a closed casing that is completely made from off-the-shelf components and 3D printed and laser-cut materials (designs online);
- So no external lighting: Seppe, Sidney (and Tai) have built a custom, controllable LED system connected to the Raspberry Pi (brain);
- It also has two fans to create air flow;
- It includes various sensors, such as water temperature and electrical conductivity, air temperature and humidity and CO2 level;
- There is a webcam (and we’re trying to implement an infrared camera as well);
- And an LCD screen that shows – among other things – sensor readings;
- A web-app to read and download all sensor readings (also in history) and the possibility to connect to other participants.
Now, the open nature of the means that it’s not limited to these features, and as a matter of fact, one of the open source contributors (a group of students in Gent) are working on extensions (a Peltier element to add warm/cold air flow and thus control temperature). AstroPlant is not just open source, it also explicitly is designed for contributions (ask Thomas how!). Want to join the development team? Join our Slack channel at border-labs.slack.com and check out our documentation on WeVolver. WeVolver is a git-based collaboration system specifically designed for open source hardware projects.
AstroPlant data will be open/public data and will be used by engineers and scientists at ESA, students, experimental growers to characterise plants to be grown in space and on our planet.
Please contact us at AstroPlant@ESA.int if you want to reach us personally. And don’t forget to subscribe.