EDEN ISS

#MadeInAntarctica - Growing vegetables in the eternal ice

In December 2017,  DLR scientist Paul Zabel relocated to the Antarctic with the EDEN ISS greenhouse. He will remain there for one year, during which he will be a member of the winter crew of the Neumayer III Antarctic station, which is operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI). "Cucumbers, radishes, peppers, lettuce and herbs have already been grown during tests conducted in Bremen," says Project Coordinator Daniel Schubert from the DLR Institute of Space Systems. "By providing special artificial light, an ideal temperature and selected nutrients entirely without soil, we are able to grow our plants more quickly and with a higher yield than in their natural environment." From a practical perspective, the healthy produce and innovative technology is enriching the diet of the Neumayer III overwinter crew while at the same time simulating the supply scenario for a human mission to Mars. "In addition to testing plant cultivation, we are also excited to be finding out how the station team responds to the fresh additions to their menu," Schubert continues. "I am sure the strawberries will be a particular delight."

Zabel is enjoying his extended field mission, which he believes feels further from Germany than is actually the case. “We will not see the Sun during the polar nights, and we are thousands of kilometres from home with no immediate way of returning,” says Zabel. "So it does feel a bit like journeying to a distant planet."

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