ASGSB 2003 Annual Meeting Abstracts


Plant Research Unit Capabilities and Current Design ConceptJ.C. Emmerich, M.C. Lee, R.C. Morrow, and T.M. Crabb.  Orbital Technologies Corporation, Madison, WI

   The Plant Research Unit (PRU), currently under development in support of the Space Station Biological Research Project, will provide an advanced plant growth facility for use in the centrifuge accommodation module. Building upon technologies proven in the Biomass Production System, the PRU offers enhanced system capabilities and performance. Specimen illumination will be provided by a high output LED array containing six independently controlled spectral components. Temperature and humidity control system advancements will accommodate higher transpiration rates, greatly improve fluid system reliability and allow simplified priming on-orbit. Atmospheric control system improvements include: totally independent gas sensing and composition control loops for each chamber, oxygen sensing, carbon dioxide scrubbing, reduced level ethylene scrubbing, and more accurate carbon dioxide metering and control. Video system capabilities have been expanded through the incorporation of three cameras per chamber (two side looking, one down looking) and dark cycle viewing. The root zone fluid system features substrate moisture sensing and separate pumps and reservoirs for each chamber.

   In addition to the increased capabilities, a modular control and packaging architecture has been adopted. By encapsulating many of the low level sensing and control functions within microcontroller based intelligent subsystems, future improvements and additions can be incorporated with minimal impact. The approach lends itself to improved flexibility, manufacturability and serviceability.

(Supported by NASA: NAS2-00080)


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