Date of Award


Document Type



Mechanical and Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Hamidreza Najafi

Second Advisor

Darshan G. Pahinkar

Third Advisor

Aldo Fabregas Ariza

Fourth Advisor

Ashok Pandit


The recent progress in commercial space flights and prospects for interplanetary space missions has attracted more attention towards developing sustainable built environments in microgravity conditions. An important factor in establishing a sustainable living condition for outer space applications is the ability to produce food. The thermal design considerations in a greenhouse have a major impact on the survival, water efficiency, quantity, and quality of plants produced. The extremely low environmental temperatures necessitate the use of heaters which do consume energy. Given the scarcity of energy access, it is important to achieve proper thermal conditions with the lowest possible energy requirements. This thesis discusses the thermal design and considerations of a greenhouse in a microgravity environment (i.e. Martian environment) with extremely low ambient temperature conditions (nearly -200 K) and limited availability of solar radiation. A parametric study of an artificial greenhouse model is performed using COMSOL Multiphysics. The effects of varying several design parameters including heater capacity, and placement of heaters are investigated on the indoor thermal condition of the greenhouse. The temperature distribution inside the greenhouse is assessed for several design conditions and the desirable distributions for plant growth are further analyzed. The impact of microgravity conditions is also assessed through a comparison of results between microgravity and normal gravity conditions. Lastly, a mathematical model is developed to estimate the daily total heating load for the greenhouse as well as the daily global horizontal solar irradiation on the surface of the mars. A solar photovoltaic array is then sized to produce adequate electricity in order to cover the energy demand of the heating system for the greenhouse. The results from this study could be used towards the proper thermal design of greenhouses for the extreme conditions of outer space applications.


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Available for download on Sunday, December 17, 2023