Task Culture-based Environmental Monitoring of Crop-based Space Food Systems
Last Published:  07/29/22 01:33:24 PM (Central)
Short Title: Veggie Monitoring
Responsible HRP Element: Human Health Countermeasures
Collaborating Org(s):
Funding Status: Active - Currently funded and in progress
Procurement Mechanism(s):

Crewmembers live and work in a closed-environment that is monitored to ensure health and safety. Lessons learned from microbial monitoring of previous spaceflight missions have been incorporated into the design and development of the International Space Station (ISS). The microbial control actions on the ISS include engineering designs, such as high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering of the air, microbial monitoring of the air, surfaces, and water, as well as remediation procedures when needed. The continual monitoring of the microbes in the environment has provided a large set of microbial environmental data to use when evaluating the current spacecraft environmental microbial limits as well as monitoring the safety of the environment for the crew. As the Program moves toward exploration missions, new systems, such as the Veggie plant growth system, are being introduced to enable mission success. It is important to collect similar measures on the new systems to furnish data to develop the spaceflight-grown produce requirements. Sampling of the Veggie system over time will provide the data needed to assess the impact of the plant growth system on crew safety. The Veggie system is open to the cabin environment, which makes it even more critical to understand what microbes are present in the plant growth system.

The objective of this experiment is to characterize the microbial community of the Veggie system which is expected to yield a baseline of microorganisms that can be used to develop microbial requirements for spaceflight-grown produce and provide inputs to future plant system design. Future work will be continued evaluation of microorganisms that colonize the plant growth system using next generation monitoring technologies to develop future methods for evaluation of produce safety. Of note, the data collected in this study may be used to get a better understating of the sources of plant system contamination from the ISS environment, pre-flight hardware contamination, water/nutrient supply, plant growth matrix and the seeds.