Abstract: Higher plants are an integral part of strategies for sustained human presence in space. Space-based greenhouses have the potential to provide closed-loop recycling of oxygen, water and food. Plant monitoring systems with the capacity to remotely observe the condition of crops in real-time within these systems would permit operators to take immediate action to ensure optimum system yield and reliability. One such plant health monitoring technique involves the use of reporter genes driving fluorescent proteins as biological sensors of plant stress. In 2006 an initial prototype green fluorescent protein imager system was deployed at the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse located in the Canadian High Arctic. This prototype demonstrated the advantageous of this biosensor technology and underscored the challenges in collecting and managing telemetric data from exigent environments. We present here the design and deployment of a second prototype imaging system deployed within and connected to the infrastructure of the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse. This is the first imager to run autonomously for one year in the un-crewed greenhouse with command and control conducted through the greenhouse satellite control system. Images were saved locally in high resolution and sent telemetrically in low resolution. Imager hardware is described, including the custom designed LED growth light and fluorescent excitation light boards, filters, data acquisition and control system, and basic sensing and environmental control. Several critical lessons learned related to the hardware of small plant growth payloads are also elaborated.
Keywords: green fluorescent protein; remote sensor; telemetry; plant health; life support; mars; astrobiology; analogue environments; imaging
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Abboud, T.; Bamsey, M.; Paul, A.-L.; Graham, T.; Braham, S.; Noumeir, R.; Berinstain, A.; Ferl, R. Deployment of a Fully-Automated Green Fluorescent Protein Imaging System in a High Arctic Autonomous Greenhouse. Sensors 2013, 13, 3530-3548.
Abboud T, Bamsey M, Paul A-L, Graham T, Braham S, Noumeir R, Berinstain A, Ferl R. Deployment of a Fully-Automated Green Fluorescent Protein Imaging System in a High Arctic Autonomous Greenhouse. Sensors. 2013; 13(3):3530-3548.
Abboud, Talal; Bamsey, Matthew; Paul, Anna-Lisa; Graham, Thomas; Braham, Stephen; Noumeir, Rita; Berinstain, Alain; Ferl, Robert. 2013. "Deployment of a Fully-Automated Green Fluorescent Protein Imaging System in a High Arctic Autonomous Greenhouse." Sensors 13, no. 3: 3530-3548.