5 Innovative Greenhouses


Plants in Space

Although Antarctica remains the most hostile environment on Earth, it's not the most inhospitable place we have established a greenhouse. Lada (named after the Russian goddess of spring) is a greenhouse that has been growing plants on the International Space Station since 2002.

The Lada greenhouse consists of three modules (one for control and two for vegetation) and was developed jointly by U.S. and Russian scientists. Although Lada uses controlled light and moisture, everything else -- air, gravity, humidity and temperature -- is dictated by the environment on the space station [source: NASA]. This allows scientists to see how plants cope in a radically different setting. It also enables them to monitor the effect of potential contaminants, such as radiation, that the astronauts, the spacecraft and, thus, the plants, are exposed to in space. By understanding how plants acclimate to the rigors of space travel, we can begin preparing for a future when astronauts can grow their own food in space and on other planets.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Exploration. "The Sahara Forest Project." 2009. (July 30, 2009).http://www.exploration-architecture.com/section.php?xSec=35
  • Exploratorium. "Ice Stories: Dispatches from Polar Scientists: McMurdo Station." 2009. (July 30, 2009).http://icestories.exploratorium.edu/dispatches/big-ideas/mcmurdo/
  • Icons. "Eden Project." 2006. (July 30, 2009).http://www.icons.org.uk/theicons/collection/eden-project
  • Jha, Alok. "Seawater Greenhouses to Bring Life to the Desert." Guardian. Aug. 2, 2008). (July 30, 2009).http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/02/alternativeenergy.solarpower
  • Keim, Brandon. "Vertical Farming: Apple Store Meets Greenhouse Meets Skyscraper." Wired. Dec. 12, 2007. (July 29, 2009).http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/12/is-the-world-re/
  • Mansfield, Cheryl. "Orbiting Agriculture." NASA. Oct. 20, 2005. (July 29, 2009).http://www.nasa.gov/missions/science/f_lada.html
  • Morris, Steven. "Eden Project Reveals 'Hot Rocks' Geothermal Energy Plan." June 2, 2009. (July 30, 2009).http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/01/eden-project-geothermal-energy
  • Oppenheim, Leonora. "Incredible Sahara Forest Project to Generate Fresh Water, Solar Power and Crops in African Desert." Treehugger. Aug. 2, 2008. (July 30, 2009).http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/09/sahara-forest-project.php
  • Seawater Greenhouse. "The Sahara Forest Project: A Proposal for Ameliorating the Effects and Causes of Climate Change." July 2008. (July 30, 2009).http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/Downloads/Sahara%20Forest.pdf
  • SpaceRef. "Green Antarctica: Station Greenhouses Produce Fresh Food, Feel-Good Environments." Feb. 25, 2004. (July 30, 2009). http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=13724
  • Strachan, Anna Lee. "Question: How Long Will It Take to Travel to Mars?" NASA. May 1, 2002. (July 31, 2009).


Does Canned Food Really Deserve a Bad Rap?

Does Canned Food Really Deserve a Bad Rap?

Canned foods are super convenient, but there's often a stigma attached to serving them. Is that warranted? HowStuffWorks takes a look.