365 days in the Antarctic, including 257 days cut off from the outside world, together with the crew members of the overwintering team at the Neumayer III Antarctic station, which is operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) –in December 2017, DLR scientist Paul Zabel relocated to the Antarctic, where he cultivated vegetables, salads and herbs in the EDEN ISS greenhouse using artificial light, effective nutrient solutions and completely without soil. He was very successful: During that year 'Antarctic gardener’ Zabel grew a total of 77 kilograms of lettuce, 67 kilograms of cucumbers and 46 kilograms of tomatoes.
With the EDEN ISS greenhouse in the inhospitable environment of the Antarctic, the DLR scientists are looking to get as close as possible to the conditions of a long-term mission in space. The research laboratory not only serves to test the cultivation of vegetables for future crewed space missions to the Moon and Mars, but also allows scientists to research food production in climatically unfavorable areas such as deserts and Arctic regions.
In the years 2019 and 2020 DLR, together with the AWI and other research partners, will further develop the production processes in the EDEN ISS greenhouse. The project will be continued and be open to researchers from all over the world.