In the last decade ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technology, Energy and the Environment) has promoted some research projects with the aim to develop a system and a protocol for producing fresh vegetable food in the Italian bases of TNB (Terra Nova Bay) and Dome C (Concordia base) situated in Antarctica, with the main result of the construction of the Plant-based Unit for Life Support in Antarctica (PULSA). The paper reports a brief overview of the main prototypes and software developed with the cooperation of the Universities of Pisa and Palermo. This cooperation had produced the main following products: 1) a complete automatic hydroponic system for plant cultivation in artificial environment (C.H.G.S., Closed Hydroponic Greenhouse System); 2) a recycling wastes unit for the purification of water and the recycling of the residual biomasses produced by hydroponic growing cycles; 3) a complete automated and remote-controlling system for the germination and the production of the plantlets (Box-Nursery); 4) a lettuce growth and yield simulator (SLS). In addition, the paper describes also the last prototypes under development, such as a multilevel hydroponic growing unit and a solar photovoltaic system, developed with the aim to maximize the yield, using also the Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) as light source for plant crop growth. Considerations and comments on the possibility to use PULSA as scientific platform for research and demonstration activities on plant growth technologies useful for the Space are also reported. All the researches herein presented were financed by the PNRA (Italian National Plan for Antarctic Research).
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