TIME SCALE is a three year research and innovation project (2015 - 2018), developing next-generation technology and concepts for life science research in space, with applications also for the land-based greenhouse industry. The project is funded by Horizon 2020, the EU framework program for research and innovation, through topic Compet-07-2014, Space Exploration - Life support.
The acronym TIME SCALE refers to the project title Technology and Innovation for development of Modular Equipment in SCalable Advanced Life support systems for space Explorations. The project involves eight consortium partners from six European countries, including small and medium sized enterprises and universities. This cooperation is complemented by a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) with members from USA, Canada, Germany, Norway, and Sweden.
Next-level technology for life science research in space
Advanced plant cultivation systems may in the future provide astronauts with space-grown food and regenerative life support systems that recycle water, nutrients, air and waste. Such systems will be important for future long term missions in space.
The TIME SCALE project will develop an advanced life support system concept to allow life science research and technology demonstrations under different gravity conditions. This will contribute to closed regenerative life support systems for future space exploration. Read more
TIME SCALE is based on an experimental "greenhouse" system onboard the International Space Station (ISS): The European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) has been successfully operated on ISS since 2006. In this system, cultivation chambers on spinning rotors allow life science research under various gravitational conditions, e.g. microgravity and simulation of martian and lunar gravity. The EMCS modular design allows replacing and upgrading individual subsystems. TIME SCALE aims at improving EMCS technology to conduct a new generation of advanced life science experiments in space. Read more
Space research for Earth applications
Space research opens up major potentials for Earth applications. TIME SCALE is developing knowledge and technology on plant production systems with high relevance and applicability for sustainable food production on Earth. Development of life support systems and production systems for space will need to take e.g. recycling, resource utilization, and monitoring of growth conditions and the plants themselves to new frontiers.
Major TIME SCALE scientific topics and technologies relevant for sustainable plant production on Earth:
- Recirculating water and nutrient management system, for increased resource efficiency in soilless plant production systems (hydroponic systems, for production of e.g. tomato, cucumber, lettuce and herbs).
- New sensor technology for real time measuring of ions in solution, for improved monitoring of nutrient-levels and thereby adjusting the production system to meet the requirements of the plants.
- Non-invasive plant health monitoring using imaging systems and monitoring of volatile organic compounds, e.g. for implementing alarm-systems indicating sub-optimal growth conditions, screening large plant populations in breeding programs, and more efficient resource management in precision agriculture.
Such knowledge and technology for sustainable food production have significant relevance for terrestrial plant production and the land-based greenhouse industry. Read more