the sight of The green plants, the smell of freshly cut Basil – that alone was already a treat in the icy wasteland. “The have been beautiful moments,” says the aerospace engineer Paul Zabel.
for A year he has grown in a special greenhouse in the Antarctic and fresh greens to the meal plan of German polar researchers greatly enriched as a kind of positive side effect. Because, actually, it was in the Experiment of the German center for air and space travel in Bremen, as astronauts could provide in the future on the moon and Mars.
117 kilos of salad, 67 kilos of cucumbers, 46 kilos of tomatoes and several pounds of Kohlrabi, Radishes and herbs brought Zabel in the last year from the greenhouse in the kitchen of the nearby research station Neumayer III of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI). “I was actually surprised that we were able to reap a lot,” says Zabel. Only with the cultivation of strawberries and peppers, it didn’t work out right – to pollinate although Zabel has even tried by hand, the strawberry plants with a brush and cotton swab.
Shortly before Christmas, the exception is returned to the gardener from the Antarctic. For months, he and the nine-strong crew of the Neumayer-lived Station of the world, what has sometimes been a challenge for Zabels work, cut off from the outside. Just in the first time, various technical problems plagued him. Once a valve of the cooling system froze, other Times the Filter clogged. “Children’s diseases”, says Zabel. This, he had to fend for themselves and with the existing devices to solve. “Because you really feel like an Astronaut.”
But not only in this respect, the one-year Experiment resembled the conditions on the moon and Mars. The plants grew in the greenhouse without soil, daylight, and pesticides. Every few minutes the roots of computers were controlled with a nutrient solution sprayed. In All of the greenhouse would look probably a bit different, says project Manager, Daniel Schubert: a small and possibly entfaltbarem Material. “The technologies are likely to be similar.”
Centrally located, the closed circulation, in which air, water, and other resources are recycled. How these processes worked, exactly, was not always understood, says Schubert. The Antarctic project is to provide important insights.
More than 300 plant samples and microbiological smears has brought Zabel from the Antarctic. In the next few months, the scientists will evaluate it. The exact results do you want to introduce in June. Then you can also say more about this, whether the fresh food has influenced the mood of the crew during the months in seclusion positive.
the AWI expert Eberhard Kohlberg thinks it’s likely. Twice he wintered in the past, in the Antarctic. On the plate of food and durable supplies were frozen. After a few months, his thoughts are circling back constantly to salad and fresh vegetables, says Kohlberg. “You missed the right.”
But the green stuff from the special greenhouse also delicious? “I found everything great,” says Zabel, but: “If there are the only fresh food in the Antarctic, anything tastes great.” In November, new researchers with unbiased taste buds, however, come to the Station, which had praised the vegetables also.
Zabels conclusion after a year: “The plants grow. The technique is actually the challenge.” Until the greenhouse is actually in the space can be used, will pass away in the view of Schubert is still 10 to 20 years. The Experiments in the Antarctic to go.
this week, a Team will fly there in order to improve the greenhouse. After that, it aims to sow new plants. But they should stay in sleep mode without light and moisture. In may, the researchers want to control the greenhouse then by the push of a button, the Bremen control room. The polar Explorer should this need to only be entered for the harvest and the Sowing of new seeds – as it would be in the case of space missions.