CSHS ZERO GRAVITY NANO LAB PLANT GROWTH CHAMBER Our plant growth chamber is the first NASA HUNCH project to be launched to the International Space Station, making Clear Springs High School the first high school in Texas to be sending up a project to the ISS. The purpose of the plant growth chamber is to produce plants that can help sustain crew members in space during long duration missions. Our project will be onboard the ISS for 3 weeks so the experiment will be for data purposes only. Data from the experiment will be used to help improve the growing

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Nov 2, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)

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CSHS ZERO GRAVITY NANO LAB PLANT GROWTH CHAMBER


Our plant growth chamber is the first NASA HUNCH project to be launched to
the International Space Station, making Clear Springs High School the first high school
in Texas to be sending up a project to the

ISS. The purpose of the plant growth chamber
is to produce plants that can help sustain crew members in space during long duration
missions. Our project will be onboard the ISS for 3 weeks so the experiment will be for
data purposes only. Data from the ex
periment will be used to help improve the growing
of plants in long duration missions. There is a few mechanical aspect that we have to
make sure are working properly. One of the aspects is the spring to create constant
pressure on the IV bag to even distr
ibution of water to the plant chambers. We have to
make sure there is no leakage between the lines transporting the water from the IV bag to
the solenoid to the chambers. Before the ISS, we are going to change certain things to fit
the requirements. We hav
e to make it easier for the astronaut to replace the IV bag when
needed. The microcontroller will be adjusted for the long duration flight on aboard the
ISS. Once activated, all system will be fully automated and will require very minimal
user interaction.

The microcontroller is one of the main aspects of the whole system
which means everything has to work properly. We have to test the microcontroller in all
function. Since almost everything is automated, we have to make sure everything is
working right. Th
e solenoid valve and the camera are powered by microcontroller which
means we have to check if it is working the way it was program in the microcontroller.
The plants will need nutrients but will be very affected by the gravity. Since in zero
gravity water

react differently, we have to see if the water spread evenly on Zero Gravity
so then we can do any changes or create new ways to spread the water. To ensure the
plants get enough water and safety for the crew on the ISS, we have to check to see if
there i
s any water leakage.


(3)
Abstract:

Our intentions were to create a completely autonomous mechanical system that
would be able to successfully and efficiently provide for the healthy growth of plant life
in a microgravity environment. To accomplish this g
oal, we created a Nanoracks box that
would contain the plant seedlings and the nutrient solution necessary for its growth. The
major problem with designing such a system was the lack of conventional pumps, as the
force of gravity causes the friction necess
ary for efficient system power. We solved this
by placing a reservoir of the nutrient solution under a constant mechanical pressure, and,
using a subsystem of IV tubing combined with an open
-
close solenoid valve, we were
able to control the flow of nutrien
t water. On the microgravity flight, we were able to test
the behavior of our water delivery
system in microgravity, and our results were that it
was able to successfully achieve delivery to the seedlings in an efficient manner.
Saturation was achieved as
preferred, albeit that it took several parabolic periods to
properly test this fact, and it appears as though the project was entirely a success in this
aspect.

In conclusion, the hypothesis to the problem was proved correct: that our system
could solve th
e issue of water delivery with plant viability in mind.


(4) Statement of the research problem:
Solving the flow rate
of the water out of the IV
bag and into the plant chambers; as well as the leakage of water from the IV bag and
connecting tubing.


(a) H
istory of the Problem (Include, perhaps, past attempts at solutions)



Several past attempts have been made; however they have been too large
and have had multiple problems with a pump not working and severe leaking from the
tubing that had been used. The
y also had problems with the distribution of water into the
connecting plant chambers.





(5) Method:


(a) How did your research begin?
This experiment is a continuation from previous
years’ projects.



(b) Describe your experiment setup.


(c.) What were your hypotheses?

Our hypothesis was that of could we use a
completely autonomous mechanical system to grow plants in space.




(d) What research did you do prior to flight?

We did research on: Flow rate from
the IV bags given different a
mounts of pressure,
different types of tubing, research on
Luer Lock valves, types of plants to which has the fastest growth and germination time,
and research on different LED lights to simulate day and night.



(e) What tests did you do to prepare?
We

tested the mechanical aspects where it
will produce the pressure for the water flow.

Grow plants and do measurement testing on
seeing how much water needed in each chamber for unsaturated, saturated, and super
-
saturated.



(6) Results:


(a) What were the results in 1g? Did you prove or disprove your hypotheses?

?
Did you prove or disprove your

hypotheses? This is our ground based testing. We
proved that the autonomous system did actually work in 1g.



(b) What were the results in 0g?
Did you prove or disprove your hypotheses?
The
project in 0g did work, evenly distributing water in all of the plant chambers. This
proved our hypothesis.



(c.) Wha
t were the results in hyper
-
g?
Did you prove or disprove your
hypotheses?
We were only taking pictures during this period, not proving or disproving
any part of the hypothesis.


(7) Discussion:


(a) What were your challenges?
Several of the challenges that we had were:
Keeping all parts of the system from leaking, having equa
l distribution of water
throughout each of the plant chambers, having the microcontroller run the program
efficiently, and making sure we had all of the correct dimensions.



(b) What were your successes?

Several of our successes were: We proved our
hypot
hesis; through the successful running of the program we are able to see that it will
be possible to efficiently

deliver a nutrient filled solution, allowing us to grow plants in
space.



(8)Conclusion:


(a) What did you learn?
Zero gravity affects the b
ehavior of water physics,
communication between all parts of the team and between stakeholders is critical, and
test each part of the system before your testing day.



(b) Now that you have tested your experiment... What you change if you were to
re
-
test
the experiment again?
We might change the pressure values and the placement of
the holes into the plant chamber; because, one space is getting saturated first.



(c.) How would the research you conducted contribute to NASA's goal

for future
research and
exploration
?

It would help the astronauts very much on long duration flights
in the future. It will provide a way for food and the cycle for oxygen.


(d) Looking back at your proposal you listed outr
each items your team would

complete prior to and aft
er co
mpleting the RG research.
What outreach did your
team complete?

We did not have any outreach items.


(9) Bibliography: Include all sources
-

websites, books,
etc.




"NASA
-

National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

NASA
. NASA, n.d. Web.

13 Jan. 2013.

"

."

Nutrition Facts, Calories in Food, Labels, Nutritional Information and Analysis


NutritionData.com
. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.

"O
-
Rings West."

O
-
Rings West
. O
-
Rings West, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.

"Sugru."

Sugru.com
. N.p., n.d. Web.
20 Sept. 2012.

"Veggie Harvest."

Growing and Harvest Information
. Veggie Harvest, 2012. Web. Mar.
-
Apr.
2013.



(10) Acknowledgements


Florence Gold:
florencevgold@nasa.gov



Steve Bress:
sbress@entropyengineering.com



Michael Johnson:
mdjohnson@yahoo.com



Dr. Brian Stephens:
stephensb@uhcl.com



Dr. Jose
ph Morgan:
morganj@entc.tamu.edu



Willis Twigge:
willistwigge@neo.tamu.edu



Mickie Byrd:
mickieb.cse@gmail.com