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ISRU Hydroponics System

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As always, the wikipedia article serves as a good introduction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroponics

Though many techniques exist for growing plants without soil, most systems would require three main components: a frame, a pump, and an automated system for measuring and correcting the concentrations of nutrients in the growing medium.

It is likely that different growing techniques are better for different varieties of plants and that a habitat would use more than one, therefore the construction of parts for all variations of hydroponics are included here.

The composition (and how to obtain the materials for that composition) of the nutrient solution itself is a different article.


ISRU Frame and Tray Production for a Hydroponic System

The frame and trays should be simple to make out of whatever materials are on hand. The only requirements are to be somewhat structuraly strong and not to release/absorb too many nutrients. It should be possible to make them from:

Or perhaps even other materials.

ISRU Pump production

Studying abailable hydroponic systems here would be a good place to start.

ISRU Nutrient Release Mechanisms

Studying abailable hydroponic systems here would be a good place to start.

ISRU Nutrient Measuring Mechanisms

Unfortunately not all nutrient concentrations are easily measured. Many of them may need to be checked individualy, and the reading might not be easily to plug into an analog to digital converter to support automation. Some may need equipment that would be very difficult to make on site. Therefore, the symptoms of nutrient deficiencies in the plant themselves should be understood, and enough testing to estimate how many nutrients are being taken in should be done.

Additional Equipment

Some optional equipment can increase productivity and decrease the amount of time people have to spend maintaining plants, or is needed for specific growing techniques.

-A light absorbing material would be needed to keep algae from developing in the tray if it is made from a clear material. Figuring out how to make paints and other aesthetic materials from unneeded products produced during other processes would be beneficial.

-A Mariotte's bottle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariotte%27s_bottle can be easily made from glass and keep solution levels constant.

- If a Mariotte's bottle proves inefficient, plants can be grown on floating "rafts" which keep them roots exposed at the same level regardless of solution level.

Growing Medium

Which mediums are the best for which environments?

Growing Techniques

Aerate the water or not? Is using oxygen worth having more food?

Lighting System

An LED lighting system can be used to transform light gathered at a different wavelength to the wavelengths that are most efficiently absorbed by plants. It can also change the amount of time a plant recieces light. The most efficient amount of light exposure per sol should be determined, as well as how little a plant species can tolerate before significant productivity decreases occur.