@Shashi Similar to life on the ISS, the Neumayer Station III, the third iteration of a German research facility run by the polar science-focused Alfred Wegener Institute, aims at identifying whether astronauts can make fresh produce part of their diets if humans finally make it to Mars. Psychological advantages aside, the greenhouse is already showing researchers how plants might thrive in deep space.
One intriguing challenge they’ve overcome is how to tend the garden remotely. Everything is grown aeroponically, which means the plants are suspended and the roots are exposed to air below. Nutrients are delivered via a sprayed solution rather than soil. This spraying—along with temperature control, lighting, and carbon dioxide adjustments—is operated from a mission control center at the German Aerospace Center in Bremen, Germany.
There is no one way to learn, especially as design is an ever-expanding practice where there are always new skills, methodologies and trends to explore. “A great design leader has a vision about what is best for people, process and content and knows how to convince others of this vision” (PARK Co-Founder Frans Joziasse). With the introduction of new technologies and updated approaches, life suport systems are constantly evolving. Space is for everybody. It’s not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That’s our new frontier out there, and it’s everybody’s business to know about space.
A combination of functionality and symbolism. The microgravity, vacuum and vantage point provide an environment for research and learning that can create the skills and insights for the burgeoning space economy. But the symbolism of a space presence, not just for the next decade, but also at the start of this millennium is important.
Knowledge generated in space has inspired many innovations, including cell phone cameras, water purification systems and has led to discoveries in medicine, materials, and manufacturing. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals address the biggest challenges facing our earth now, needing urgent attention. This knowledge would aim at tackling particular types of ‘wicked problems’ and leveraging space-based research alongside different disciplines from the social sciences, physical sciences, information technology and business. Applied research in artificial retinas, pure fiber optic cables, drought resistant plants, and even new understandings of how genes might express themselves under these unique stresses will lead to discoveries and new business applications.
Collaborative research processes need to be more accessible – there is a need to design research tools, datasets, research outputs and communication from a collaborative point of view. Design brings not only creativity but also imagination and empathy. We need designers able to imagine and give form to the new world we are fighting for, and empathy and insight to understand how we move from where we are, to where we could be. Design can contribute to problem solving and ideation exploration through the design thinking process is a starting point. Digital communication design is integral to creating tele-present connectivity between earth and space.
As in all the disciplines, design will be faced with new challenges not encountered on Earth. The third dimension will be more important in the design of spaces — how will human needs adapt to these new environments involving not just gravity shifts, but also significant changes in atmosphere, temperature, and light. NASA has done a lot of leading research on crowdsourcing research, but the overall impact on how closed-loop systems work is limited. Space research grows rapidly in private sector institutions, but uses are focused on core private sector interests. Results are shared with citizens, but only indirectly. There are many areas of pedagogy that already embrace the field of space, including futurist design, space architecture, communication design, materials design, systems design and user experience design, among others. Fundamentally, design is a connecting point of all fields of endeavour and provides a bridge between art, science, technology, engineering and commerce. It is an integral component of all new learning.