Maryland Cadets Capture Scientific Growing Challenge
Cadets from the Maryland Wing’s Mount Airy Composite Squadron won the high school division of the Fairchild Growing Beyond Earth Maker Challenge with their presentation on autonomous robotic planting and harvesting.
The challenge, now in its third year, stems from Miami-based Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s partnership with NASA scientists and engineers to develop food production technologies for long-duration space travel.
Participants in the challenge were divided into high school, collegiate and professional divisions.
Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Isabella Tiger, Cadet Tech. Sgts. Graceful Action and Alexander Rolfe, Cadet Senior Airman Tanner Matney and Cadet Airman 1st Class Joyful Action won with their cylindrical design, based on results from the first two rounds, being chosen the most space-efficient.
For their project, radichetta, rocket arugula, Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, and Grand Rapids Lettuce were planted on the cylinder’s inner circumference. The planting, harvesting, and lighting mechanism was mounted in the center. RGB LEDs were chosen as the light source to optimize the wavelength for best plant growth.
The cadets made an initial presentation of their design in early 2022 to a panel of NASA scientists.
2nd Lt. Peter Foiles
Assistant Public Affairs Officer
Mount Airy Composite Squadron