Autonomous growth of crops for closed life-support system

Tags: Aerospace

The PaCMAN Unit Laboratory is the first laboratory in Europe entirely dedicated to the characterization of plants for regenerative systems to support life in Space. It is hosted by the Department of Agricultural and Food Science of the University of Naples Federico II.

The Higher Plant Compartment is one of the most complex compartments of the MELiSSA loop, and requires dedicated research infrastructures in order to study and mathematically characterize plant development and crop production. As such, the PaCMAN Unit was conceived as an environmentally controlled and leak-proof system for scientific studies on various crops.

In collaboration with several MELiSSA partners, ODYS has developed the entire control system and the software infrastructure behind the PaCMAN Unit Laboratory, enabling the autonomous growth of crops with no human intervention.

Read more about the project in the paper published on Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, titled A Plant Characterization Unit for Closed Life Support: Hardware and Control Design for Atmospheric Systems.

Here is a timelapse of lettuces (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Grand Rapids) growing in the first life test, carried out on November 2020:

The PaCMAN Unit Laboratory has been inaugurated On November 7, 2019. Check out the video from the inauguration ceremony and read more about the PaCMAN project at

Credits: MELiSSA Space Research ProgramEuropean Space Agency