Building Greenhouses In Space

Astronaut Don Pettit's Diary of a Space Zucchini

"January 5, 2012: I sprouted, thrust into this world without anyone consulting me. I am not one of the beautiful; I am not one that by any other name instills flutters in the human heart. I am the kind that makes little boys gag at the dinner table thus being sent to bed without their dessert. I am utilitarian, hearty vegetative matter that can thrive under harsh conditions. I am zucchini - and I am in space."

Keith's note: When I was in high school I was mesmerized by a film that is often relegated to being a "cult classic" "Silent Running". While the premise is from the 1970's popular mindset, the premise is simple: a bunch of plants and animals are kept alive in space in giant greenhouses. I soon went on to become a biologist - eventually a space biologist at NASA - and these images from the film were always on my mind.

Years later my business partner Marc Boucher and I donated and personally constructed a greenhouse on Devon Island - almost as isolated and harsh as what was depicted in Silent Running. Years later I showed Douglas Trumbull, the director of Silent Running, a picture of the greenhouse (The "Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse") and told him that Silent Running was my inspiration. A very broad smile expanded acorss Trumbull's face.

Alas, that greenhouse on Devon Island is now sitting unused on Devon Island with no plans for its future use. During the time that the greenhouse was being used, it was rather other-worldy to walk inside a humid, green mini-biosphere set amdist terrain that has a distinct Martian look and feel. Maybe someone will find a use for it once again. I wonder what today's hgh school students could do with a remotely operable greenhouse located less than a thousand miles from the north pole near an asteroid impact crater with surroundings noted for their similarity to what we've seen on Mars.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on April 25, 2012 11:44 AM.

Possible Lawsuit Will Damage Our Ability To Use The International Space Station was the previous entry in this blog.

NASA Technology That Can't Link To Itself is the next entry in this blog.

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