2019 Seminar Series - Dr. Raymond Wheeler


NASA’s Interests in Bioregenerative Life Support

by Dr. Raymond Wheeler, NASA, John F. Kennedy Space Centre

LOCATION: Room 202, Crop Sci
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 7, 2019 @ 1:00 PM ***

***NB: note the later start time for this specific seminar


NASA and other space agencies around the world have a long-standing interest in the use of plants to provide food, O2, and clean water for human life support in space. This will require controlled environments to optimize lighting, atmospheric composition, water, and nutrient management. In all cases minimizing power, mass and volume, and demonstrating sustainability will be important. Thus, in many ways, space agriculture shares common interests with terrestrial controlled environment agriculture. Some examples of crops tests conducted by NASA will be presented, including an atmospherically closed, vertical farming system that NASA operated from 1988 to 2000. Some lessons learned will be reviewed, as well as what the future might hold for humans using plants for life support in space.


Ray Wheeler received his PhD in plant physiology at Utah State University, after which he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin. He then moved to NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, where he has worked as a crop physiologist since 1988. His research has focused on hydroponic cultivation of crops, plant canopy gas exchange, and the effects of lighting and CO2 on growth and development. Ray has visited the University of Guelph on multiple occasions, including a 3 month sabbatical in 2007. Ray is currently a senior scientist in NASA’s Exploration Research and Technology at Kennedy Space Center, where he leads advanced life support research and development activities.