Growing plants in space is an important area of research – especially as we need to explore how we might be able to grow food on planets such as Mars. Plants will play a critical role in the survival of human beings on long-duration space missions, as well as providing the scientific foundation for sustaining our future inter-planetary civilization. Growing plants in space has proven to be difficult - low gravity means water distribution is difficult to manage, the roots are often starved of oxygen, and stagnant air reduces evaporation and increases the leaf temperature. Learning to grow plants in space is an essential goal for long duration space missions since crop growth in space will be beneficial in a variety of ways, aiding with air regeneration, food production, and water recycling. NASA has been at the forefront of this essential research, by establishing the Veggie experiment, which grew vegetables on the International Space Station.
To Infinity and Beyond is designed to help expand on the progress made by the Veggie experiment, by aiding scientists in their research by monitoring their plant's growth. Our website also gives young scientists the tools to determine whether their plants would be able to grow in their unique environments, whether it be in an O'Neill cylinder or on Jupiter.
What it does
To Infinity and Beyond allows users to sign in to track the progress of their plant's growth. When their plants become ready to harvest, they will receive an SMS notification through Twilio. Users can also check whether a certain plant would be able to grow given the conditions that they imputed into our website. Our 'learn more' tab highlights the evolution of scientific progress on growing plants in space.
How we built it
We used HTML and CSS to create the front-end of To Infinity and Beyond. We used GoDaddy to create the domain of toinfinityandbeyond.us. We used Canva to create the logo and to create a background for one of the pages. For the backend we used PHP and mySQL to store the user's login information and check their login credentials. We also used mySQL to store the information about each of the plant's growing conditions.
Challenges we ran into
It was difficult to figure out how to create the backend database where users' information is stored. We watched a lot of videos on how to set up the backend but got a bit stuck. We then dumped our mySQL database into CockroachDB.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
It was really fun for us to work together to create the front-end, and especially choosing which videos we wanted to show on for our backgrounds. We are really proud about how our website looks. We did a lot of research about growing plants in space - and learned a lot in the process!
What we learned
We learned about the different components to creating the backend for a website. We also learned how to use PHP and how to use videos in our website's background. We had never worked with Twilio before, and were very impressed by all of the features they have. In the future we would like to incorporate more of their APIs.
What's next for To Infinity and Beyond
We would like to work more on the backend of the website and incorporate more learning tools. We would like to use the AI enabled chat box with Twilio to help answer common questions people might have about growing plants in space. It would be really fun to have the chat box use emojis to help guide questions. We wanted to incorporate it this weekend, but we didn't have enough time.