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Inside the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse (ACMG)


Talal Abboud
Talal Abboud Author profile
Talal Abboud holds a Bachelor and a Master of Engineering from the Department of Electrical Engineering of the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). He is currently an electronics designer at Kongsberg Automotive centre of excellence (CoE) department.

Matthew Bamsey
Matthew Bamsey Author profile
Matthew Bamsey is a Research Associate at Institute of Space Systems DLR in Germany. He is also part of the EDEN ISS project team. He worked on research projects at the University of Florida, University of Guelph and the CSA.

Anna-Lisa Paul
Anna-Lisa Paul Author profile
Anna-Lisa Paul is a Research Professor in Horticultural Sciences,University of Florida. Her research interests focus on the regulation of plant gene expression in response to abiotic stress and extreme environments.

Thomas Graham
Thomas Graham Author profile
Thomas Graham is a Research and Development Manager at the University of Guelph’s CESRF. His research interest focuses on improving volume utilization efficiency in bioregenerative life-support systems.

Stephen Braham
Stephen Braham Author profile
Stephen Braham is the Director of PolyLAB and of the Polymath Develoment Group, both at Simon Fraser University. His is also Vice President of the Mars Institute.

Rita Noumeir
Rita Noumeir Author profile
Rita Noumeir is a professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at ÉTS. Her research includes interoperability in healthcare, medical image analysis, treatment and visualization.

Alain Berinstain
Alain Berinstain Author profile
Alain Berinstain spent 17 years at the CSA where he was Director of Planetary Exploration and Space Astronomy. Since 2013, with the creation of his own company, Psyence, he now devotes himself to the communication of science and technology.

Robert Ferl
Robert Ferl Author profile
Robert Ferl is a Professor at University of Florida and Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research (ICBR) His research interests are space biology, examination of 14-3-3 proteins and of chromatin structure.

Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse simulates Mars' conditions

Editor’s note

Plant growth is an important step in establishing colonies on other planets. It is a well-known fact that plants provide edible biomass, absorb CO2, and produce O2 and drinking water. The Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse (ACMG) was established in the Canadian Arctic to simulate an autonomous greenhouse on Mars. What follows is an overview of its features.

This article is part of a series on research and technological developments intended for the colonization of other planets.

Introduction

The Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse (ACMG) is a biological life support systems test facility developed to study and understand automated greenhouse production in extreme environments. Established in 2002, the ACMG became part of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP), run by the Mars Institute, which is an international field research project that participates in numerous disparate studies.

Haughton Mars Project Research Station, ACMG

Haughton Mars Project Research Station

Located on Devon Island close to the Haughton crater in the Canadian High Arctic, HMP uses the remote polar desert and uninhabited island as a terrestrial environmental analogue for Mars and Moon. The site’s geologic topography and biological aspects promote a distinctive research and operations environment suitable to the elaboration of knowledge, technologies, and field based operational methodologies that could be a significant step to successful long duration human space missions.

Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic, ACMG location

Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic

Haughton crater, ACMG location

Haughton Crater © Canadian Space Agency

The ACMG does not have all the functionality of a replicated closed loop life support system to be deployed on Mars or the Moon. On the other hand, it supports extreme environment for scientific and operational research, providing an improved understanding of how remote and semiautonomous plant production systems could one day be operated. The ACMG is composed of a DC power system, a plant growth system, an environmental control system, a local network, communication system and a data acquisition and control system (Bamsey et al., 2009a; Giroux et al., 2006). The greenhouse operates autonomously throughout the year, with the researchers only on-site during the month of July when the crops are harvested and reseeded (Bamsey et al., 2009b). The ACMG was the test bed for the TIS-II GFP imager deployed in 2006 and the TIS-III GFP imager in 2010.

ACMG ’s Equipment

The ACMG power comes from a DC renewable energy system composed of six solar panels of 110 W (peak) each and can provide a total of 660 W during a sunny day in the summer. In addition, the greenhouse is powered with two wind turbines, each with a peak output of 400 W. The solar panels and wind turbines are connected to a battery bank through a set of charge controllers.

Replica of the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse (ACMG)

Replica of the ACMG Greenhouse at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Headquarters in Longueuil, Quebec

ACMG Battery Bank

ACMG Battery Bank

All greenhouse sensors, relays, Ethernet cameras and the TIS-III imager are controlled and synchronized by a programmable logic controller with an intelligent Ethernet control interface. The information collected by the controllers, sensors and cameras is accessed by an independent embedded Linux command and control computer and sent via satellite to an autonomous mission operations computer server system at Simon Fraser University (SFU), British Colombia. Upon reception of the data, the information is processed and stored, and then made available to the researchers through the Internet (Giroux et al., 2006).

Data Management System for ACMG

Canadian Space Agency’s ACMG Data Management System

The Canadian Space Agency also developed at ACMG a Data Management System that was utilized by greenhouse operators and participating scientists and was accessible worldwide. In addition, the greenhouse and the TIS-III imager were controlled through the use of the Canadian Space Agency’s Exploration Development and Operations Centre (ExDOC).

Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse (ACMG)

Inside ACMG

Conclusion

Prior to sending astronauts to others planets (Mars or Moon), research from sites like the ACMG is crucial to better understand how plants could grow and sustain human life.

Grown plants in ACMG

Grown Plants in ACMG

The following video present the ACMG:

 

Talal Abboud

Author's profile

Talal Abboud holds a Bachelor and a Master of Engineering from the Department of Electrical Engineering of the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). He is currently an electronics designer at Kongsberg Automotive centre of excellence (CoE) department.

Author profile

Matthew Bamsey

Author's profile

Matthew Bamsey is a Research Associate at Institute of Space Systems DLR in Germany. He is also part of the EDEN ISS project team. He worked on research projects at the University of Florida, University of Guelph and the CSA.

Author profile

Anna-Lisa Paul

Author's profile

Anna-Lisa Paul is a Research Professor in Horticultural Sciences,University of Florida. Her research interests focus on the regulation of plant gene expression in response to abiotic stress and extreme environments.

Author profile

Thomas Graham

Author's profile

Thomas Graham is a Research and Development Manager at the University of Guelph’s CESRF. His research interest focuses on improving volume utilization efficiency in bioregenerative life-support systems.

Author profile

Stephen Braham

Author's profile

Stephen Braham is the Director of PolyLAB and of the Polymath Develoment Group, both at Simon Fraser University. His is also Vice President of the Mars Institute.

Author profile

Rita Noumeir

Author's profile

Rita Noumeir is a professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at ÉTS. Her research includes interoperability in healthcare, medical image analysis, treatment and visualization.

Program : Electrical Engineering 

Research laboratories : LIVIA – Imaging, Vision and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory  SYNCHROMEDIA – Multimedia Communication in Telepresence 

Author profile

Alain Berinstain

Author's profile

Alain Berinstain spent 17 years at the CSA where he was Director of Planetary Exploration and Space Astronomy. Since 2013, with the creation of his own company, Psyence, he now devotes himself to the communication of science and technology.

Author profile

Robert Ferl

Author's profile

Robert Ferl is a Professor at University of Florida and Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research (ICBR) His research interests are space biology, examination of 14-3-3 proteins and of chromatin structure.

Author profile


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