Horticulture Lighting: Smart research lighting system Phytofy RL for NASA

Horticulture Lighting

Fresh food in outer space

NASA taps OSRAM to support its Food Production Research

OSRAM is providing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with a customized version of its proprietary connected horticulture research lighting system, Phytofy RL. The smart lighting software, coupled with a unique setup of connected grow light fixtures, will supplement the lighting technology used in NASA’s Food Production. Research focused on production of salad-type crops for crews during space travel. All software, hardware and LEDs in Phytofy were developed by OSRAM.

“OSRAM is developing smart, innovative lighting technologies that can improve food production in a variety of environments, even unique environments like space,” said Steve Graves, Strategic Program Manager of Urban & Digital Farming, OSRAM Innovation, Americas Region. “Many of the world’s coolest and most beneficial inventions have come from scientists at NASA over the past several decades, and to play a role in empowering further innovation through the use of our technologies is an honor. (...) Our teams are excited to continue learning and refining its setup before ultimately bringing this exclusive solution to market within the next year.”

"Our teams are excited to continue learning and refining its setup before ultimately bringing this exclusive solution to market within the next year.”

Steve Graves, Strategic Program Manager of Urban & Digital Farming, OSRAM Innovation, Americas Region

Research in outer space to understand growth conditions on Earth

OSRAM is equipping NASA with Phytofy RLs, its intelligent research lighting system for plant growth. The American space agency is using it to expand its research into food production during space missions.

The innovative research lighting system – a unique array of horticultural LEDs coupled with intelligent software – is now being used by NASA Food Production Research at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Scientists at the center are studying the ideal lighting conditions for the cultivation of lettuce and herbs for space crews. The insights gained on Earth serve as input for the Advanced Plant Habitat aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The space findings, in turn, are helping to improve the understanding of growth conditions on Earth.

Press Release June 1, 2018 The NASA story "Space for Growth"
Phytofy - smartes Licht für Urban Farming

Watch the video (source: NASA, Kenedy Space Center, Florida)

Optimal light recipes thanks to Phytofy-RL lighting technology from OSRAM

Phytofy’s unique features include:

  • A UV channel which provides researchers with the ability to add a brief UV light to see how plants react and change.
  • More LEDs, which means a higher Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF). PPF measures light emission by calculating how many photons are coming out of the light every second. This is an important metric for plant researchers so they can determine the most efficient and effective light recipes.
  • An Irradiance Map – Researchers can see the irradiance using OSRAM software, so there is no need for them to measure irradiance separately before changing the light setting.

OSRAM’s smart horticulture lighting system is being piloted through a series of collaborations with universities and research labs around the world that are using the technologies and sharing insights. At NASA, Phytofy RL will allow researchers to easily adjust lighting conditions to optimize plant growth in various conditions and then replicate those settings in the Advanced Plant Habitat on the International Space Station, meeting the sophisticated needs of space food production. Installation of Phytofy RL within a growth chamber at Kennedy Space Center in Florida was completed recently, with plans to move the configuration to one or more of the Center’s walk-in plant grow rooms.

Via radiation with light of different wavelengths, the growth cycles of plants can be controlled and accelerated, allowing the plants to be harvested either more often or as required. Special light recipes optimize not only yield and growing time but also can increase the amount of vitamins and nutrients in the plant, and can enhance certain tastes and flavors. LEDs not only provide tailor-made bioactive lighting, but are also very efficient.

For more information on our horticulture products and our grow light expertise – contact us!