5. April 2018
Lettuces, cucumbers and radishes

First har­vest in the Antarc­tic green­house EDEN ISS

DLR researcher Paul Zabel holds a freshly harvested Antarctic lettuce in his hands
DLR re­searcher Paul Zabel holds a fresh­ly har­vest­ed Antarc­tic let­tuce in his hands
Image 1/5, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

DLR researcher Paul Zabel holds a freshly harvested Antarctic lettuce in his hands

In the EDEN ISS green­house, DLR re­searcher Paul Zabel holds the first har­vest­ed let­tuce in his hands.
Radishes before harvest
Radish­es be­fore har­vest
Image 2/5, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Radishes before harvest

Radish­es be­fore the first har­vest in the EDEN ISS green­house. The plants are cul­ti­vat­ed un­der ar­ti­fi­cial light and with­out soil. Their roots are reg­u­lar­ly sprayed with a nu­tri­ent so­lu­tion.
Radish­es and let­tuce leaves from the first har­vest
Image 3/5, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Radishes and lettuce leaves from the first harvest

Let­tuce leaves and radish­es from the first har­vest in the Antarc­tic green­house EDEN ISS, laid out in the kitchen at Neu­may­er Sta­tion III.
First EDEN ISS cu­cum­bers
Image 4/5, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

First EDEN ISS cucumbers

The first cu­cum­bers grown in the EDEN ISS green­house.
Fresh­ly pre­pared sal­ad for the Antarc­tic over­win­ter­ing crew
Image 5/5, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Freshly prepared salad for the Antarctic overwintering crew

Out of the EDEN ISS green­house and straight on­to the plates of the Antarc­tic over­win­ter crew. The sal­ad here is served with a rasp­ber­ry dress­ing and beet­root.
  • Antarctic greenhouse as a test for future Moon and Mars missions and for the cultivation of vegetables in climatically challenging regions of Earth
  • Plant cultivation without soil using optimised light and carbon dioxide content, and a closed water cycle
  • Welcome additions to the menu for the overwinter crew at the AWI's Neumayer Station III in Antarctica
  • Focus: Space, biosystems

While the temperatures in the Antarctic gradually drop below 20 degrees Celsius and the Sun barely rises above the horizon, the plants being cultivated in the experimental greenhouse EDEN ISS are growing and thriving. After the first three weeks, Paul Zabel from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has, over the last few days, harvested the first crops in the cold environment. The first harvest produced 3.6 kilograms of lettuce, 70 radishes and 18 cucumbers. What is now destined to enrich the diet of the overwintering crew demonstrates how astronauts on future Moon and Mars missions could be supplied with fresh produce.

"Once I had finished sowing in mid-February, I struggled with a few unexpected difficulties, such as minor system failures and the fiercest storm of the last year," explains Zabel, an engineer and Antarctic gardener from the DLR Institute of Space Systems. "Thankfully, I was able to fix all the problems and survive the ordeal." Project Manager Daniel Schubert adds: "We have learned a lot about self-contained plant cultivation in recent weeks, and it has become evident that the Antarctic is an ideal test environment for our research." Now all the planned plants are growing in the greenhouse, including radishes, various types of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and herbs (basil, parsley, chives and coriander). "The cultivation of strawberries is the only thing that we have not yet started," says Schubert. “We are still waiting for a successful sowing." The DLR researchers expect the container greenhouse to be operating at full capacity in May. They will then be able to harvest four to five kilograms of fresh vegetables each week.

Welcome additions to the menu

A 10-strong overwintering crew is currently living in the Alfred Wegener Institute's Neumayer Station III. The fresh vegetables they received with the last delivery at the end of February have all been consumed, so the residents are happy with the new additions to their menu. "Seeing our first fresh Antarctic salad was a truly special moment," says station manager Bernhard Gropp. "It tasted like it had just been harvested from the garden."

Currently, Zabel spends three to four hours per day tending to the plants in the greenhouse, which is situated approximately 400 metres from Neumayer Station III. He is mainly occupied with checking the technical systems and typical gardening activities such as pruning the plants. Meanwhile, he is in regular contact with the control centre at the DLR Institute of Space Systems in Bremen, which is monitoring the plant cultivation remotely. On particularly stormy days, for instance recently on 21 March, Daniel Schubert and his team, Matthew Bamsey and Conrad Zeidler, are solely responsible for monitoring the greenhouse from Bremen until Paul Zabel is able to make his way from the station. This temporary measure can be maintained for up to three days.

Einblick in das Antarktis-Gewächshaus
Video "Einblick in das Antarktis-Gewächshaus"
Credit: DLR

International cooperation in EDEN ISS

The EDEN ISS project will be conducted during an overwintering mission at the German Antarctic station Neumayer III, in collaboration with the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). A large number of other international partners are contributing to a research consortium under the auspices of DLR, ensuring that the greenhouse will work smoothly in the Antarctic: Wageningen University and Research (Netherlands), Air­bus De­fence and Space (Germany), LIQUIFER (Austria), the Na­tion­al Re­search Coun­cil (Italy), the University of Guelph (Canada), Enginsoft (Italy), Thales Ale­nia Space (Italy), Arescosmo (Italy), Heliospectra (Sweden), the Limerick Institute of Technology (Ireland), Telespazio (Italy), and the University of Florida (USA) all form part of the consortium of the EDEN ISS project. The project is financed with funds from the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under project number 636501.

The EDEN ISS channels on Facebook and In­sta­gram and under the #MadeInAntarc­ti­ca hashtag on Twitter publish regular news about the project directly from the Antarctic. More detailed information can be found at www.DLR.de/EDEN-ISS.

  • Falk Dambowsky
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3959
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
  • Paul Zabel
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Telephone: +49 421 24420-1273
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Köln
  • Daniel Schubert
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Space Sys­tems
    Robert-Hooke-Straße 7
    28359 Bremen
  • Sebastian Grote
    Al­fred We­gen­er In­sti­tute (AWI)
    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 471 4831-2006
    Am Handelshafen 12
    27570 Bremerhaven
Related news

Main menu