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Fungarium and Astro Mini Farm triumph in Star Trek replicator challenge

by • July 7, 2016 • No Comments

The next generation of trekkies is off to an inspiring begin with winners not long ago named in the Future Engineers 3D Printing Star Trek Replicator Challenge. The budding student scientists were invited to engineer the next of food production, particularly those which may address issues faced by long interplanetary space flight and manned undertakings on Mars.

The student contestants were tasked with designing 3D-printable objects which may assist provide astronauts with nutritious meals in the year 2050. In all, the organizers obtained 405 subundertakings, with subundertakings offering concepts on ways to grow and harvest create in space, as well as methods for the preparation, eating and disposing of food.

First place in the Teen Group (13-19) was Kyle Corrette of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona, who made a Melanized Fungarium, or mushroom farm. The device, made specifically for use in a microgravity environment, may provide an organic growth bed for its melanized fungus via radioactivity as an energy source.

This ionizing radiation, readily on the market in space, may allow for continuous growth of the fungi, providing a renewable food source for the crew. Water may be pumped into an extruding intake tube which makes its way through internal pipes to the growth bed.

In the Junior Group (5-12), Sreyash Sola of Eagle Ridge Middle School in Ashburn, Virginia, won for his Astro Mini Farm – a Martian greenhouse made to provide fresh create for astronauts on a undertaking to the planet.

Since Mars gets less sunlight than earth, the mini farm is topped by a magnifying lens for collecting the sun’s rays and directing it to the plants. It in addition comes equipped with a pump to store the unit pressurized in the Red Planet’s thin atmosphere, to of a tenth the pressure of planet Earth.

A slanted hole in the base of the mini farm allows for for the transfer of soil into pots and for watering the plants. Because the unit contains no electronic parts, it can additional easily be 3D printed on Mars via a materials extracted of the planet’s soil.

Other finalists’ in the Teen Group include a Multi-Purpose Mug for producing and drinking tea or coffee, measuring liquids and watering plants; and a Spirulina Farm which grows fresh algae under LED lights, with a hand-cranked centrifuge for separating the nutrient-packed spirulina of the expanding solution.

The contest was sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Foundation, in partnership with NASA and Star Trek.

Source: NASA

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