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NASA ties up with lighting giant Osram for research in food production for space travel

The smart lighting software, coupled with a unique setup of connected grow light fixtures, will supplement the lighting technology used in NASA's Food Production.

Published: 05th June 2018 04:43 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th June 2018 04:43 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

MUNICH: Osram, a 110-year-old global lighting company, today announced it is providing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with a customized version of its proprietary connected horticulture research lighting system, Phytofy RL.

The smart lighting software, coupled with a unique setup of connected grow light fixtures, will supplement the lighting technology used in NASA's Food Production. The research is focused on the production of salad-type crops for crews during space travel. All software, hardware and LEDs in Phytofy were developed by Osram.

Osram has developed a broad portfolio of horticulture LEDs that emits the specific wavelengths needed for optimum growth of a wide variety of plants and flowers, allowing the light to be adapted specifically for the needs of various crops.

"Osram is developing smart, innovative lighting technologies that can improve food production in a variety of environments, even unique environments like space," said Steve Graves, Program Manager, Urban & Digital Farming, Osram Innovation, America". He further said that it is an honour to work with NASA and felt excited about the possibilities Phytofy RL will bring in to a wide variety of horticulture applications. "Our teams are excited to continue learning and refining its setup before ultimately bringing this exclusive solution to market within the next year", he added.

NASA was introduced to Osram through Hort Americas, which works closely with leading manufacturers to provide North American greenhouse growers, vertical farmers and researchers with the most technically advanced and cost-effective products to help them reach their yield, quality and project goals. 

Phytofy's unique features include:

An Ultra Violet(UV) channel which provides researchers with the ability to add a brief UV light to see how plants react and change.

More LEDs, which means a higher Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF). PPF measures light emission by calculating how many photons are coming out of the light every second. This is an important metric for plant researchers so they can determine the most efficient and effective light recipes.

An Irradiance Map - Researchers can see the fluctuations in the lighting or irradiance using Osram software, so there is no need for them to measure irradiance separately before changing the light setting.

At NASA, Phytofy RL will allow researchers to easily adjust lighting conditions to optimize plant growth in various conditions and then replicate those settings in the Advanced Plant Habitat on the International Space Station, meeting the sophisticated needs of space food production. Installation of Phytofy RL within a growth chamber at Kennedy Space Center in Florida was completed recently, with plans to move the configuration to one or more of the Center's walk-in plant grow rooms.

With the light of different wavelengths, the growth cycles of plants can be controlled and accelerated, allowing the plants to be harvested either more often or as required. Special light recipes optimize not only yield and growing time but also can increase the number of vitamins and nutrients in the plant, and can enhance certain tastes and flavours. LEDs not only provide tailor-made bioactive lighting but are also very efficient.

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