Plants Growing in Air
A team at the University of Prague is growing plants out of thin air, or at least in the air. This project, part of the research for a future Mars mission, studies aeroponics, or how to grow plants without soil
The “Marsonaut” experiment is based on aeroponics — growing plants in the air, without soil, and limiting water use to a minimum.
The plants grow horizontally from a vertical unit and are stacked one above the other to minimize space. Researchers experiment with light and temperature changes.
“During our Marsonaut project, we are trying, using unconventional methods of growing plants called aeroponics, to prepare plants for future missions on Mars. The plants can’t grow just from the seeds in the aeroponic lab and that’s why we have to grow some roots here in the hydroponic box,” space engineer Jan Lukacevic said.
The team has already succeeded in growing mustard plants, salad leaves, radishes and herbs like basil and mint.
“The aeroponic lab has special conditions and lighting and with the help of a nutrient solution, the plants are growing into the right ‘adult’ size,” Lukacevic said.
Scientists ate their first harvest last week.
“They taste wonderful because they grow in a controlled environment and we supply them with bespoke nutrients,” Lukacevic added.
Strawberries are the next crop planned.
The main benefit of the growing method is that it uses 95% less water than normal plant cultivation and also saves space.