Considerations in miniaturizing simplified agro-ecosystems for advanced life support

Tyler Volk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Miniaturizing the Earth's biogeochemical cycles to support human life during future space missions is the goal of the NASA research and engineering program in advanced life support. Mission requirements to reduce mass, volume, and power have focused efforts on (1) a maximally simplified agro-ecosystem of humans, food crops, and microbes; and, (2) a design for optimized productivity of food crops with high light levels over long days, with hydroponics, with elevated carbon dioxide and other controlled environmental factors, as well as with genetic selection for desirable crop properties. Mathematical modeling contributes to the goals by establishing tradeoffs, by analyzing the growth and development of experimental crops, and by pointing to the possibilities of directed phasic control using modified field crop models to increase the harvest index.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-108
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Engineering
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1996


  • Crop growth
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Mesocosm
  • Space agriculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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