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   Infocentre

Published: 2 February 2016  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Agriculture & food
International cooperation
Research policyHorizon 2020
SpaceSpace exploration
Success storiesSpace
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Austria  |  Canada  |  Germany  |  Ireland  |  Italy  |  Netherlands  |  Sweden
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Grow your own food - in space

If we ever want to put down roots beyond our home planet, we will need a way to grow food out there. Pre-packaged meals will only get us so far. The EDEN ISS project has set out on a four-year mission dedicated to plant cultivation on the International Space Station. Its work could help to remove one of the barriers standing between us and thriving colonies on Mars.

Photo of of scientist with plant and soil in lab
© Syda Productions - fotolia.com

Only a few decades ago, the prospect of human settlements in space might have sounded like pie in the sky. But with the International Space Station (ISS), Earthlings have already established a presence off-planet, and others will follow — as will manned exploratory flights that would benefit from the ability to supplement their rations.

Space gardening could not only help to keep crews fed, healthy and happy; it could also play a role in recycling water and waste, and in keeping the air breathable. Other possible benefits include cost reductions, as sending food into space is expensive.

The partners involved in EDEN ISS are striving to tap into this potential. They are developing technologies and processes for the safe cultivation of plants on the ISS, along with a mobile testing facility that will enable them to validate their approach during a one-year trial in Antarctica.

Getting space farming off the ground is an interdisciplinary challenge, and consequently the EDEN ISS consortium mobilises a wide range of expertise. It is an alliance of partners from academia and industry, where universities, research institutes, and companies large and small contribute know-how in areas as varied as food science, horticulture, microbiology and space engineering. Their joint enterprise is not just of interest for applications in space: it could also advance resource-efficient farming right here, in our increasingly crowded planetary home.

Read more in Horizon magazine

Project details

  • Project acronym:EDEN ISS
  • Participants:Germany (Coordinator), Austria, Italy, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland
  • Project Reference N° 636501
  • Total cost: €4 550 867/li>
  • EU contribution: €4 535 869
  • Duration:March 2015 - January 2019

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece