NASA or National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Why send plants into space? Plants are of special interest to space biologists because of the profound effect gravity has on orienting plant growth. Scientists want to know how gravity is perceived by the plant and how to compensate for the effects of microgravity on plant growth. Without gravity directing roots "down" and the growing tip of the plant "up", how can plants grow normally?
There is also the question of supplying plants in space with water, minerals and air. In microgravity, water "poured" from a vessel floats in globs and oxygen moves differently in the absence of convective air movement. A second reason for having plants in space is a therapeutic one, to counteract the feelings of isolation among crew members involved with long stays in space.
And third, plants have the potential role of providing atmospheric regeneration in a closed ecological life support system (CELSS). Carbon dioxide exhaled by humans could be taken up by plants and used in photosynthesis, returning oxygen and food to the crew.
Plants can also form part of a water regeneration loop. The productivity of plants relative to the input of energy (light) can be increased tremendously by using such techniques as carbon dioxide enrichment and hydroponics. In order to realize the goal of using plants in a CELSS, many experiments with plant growth facilities on the ground and in space will be necessary.
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Plants in Space
Developed and conducted by the Center for Educational Outreach, Baylor College of Medicine, in collaboration with BioServe Space Technologies of the University of Colorado, and the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Funding provided by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.
Be part of an exciting investigation taking place in space and on Earth. The Plants in Space investigation examines plant root growth in microgravity. You and your students can grow ground-based control plants in your classroom, download hourly photographs from the International Space Station, and design your own experiments based on the data from space.
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Farming in Space
This activity originates from NASA's interest in longterm, manned flight and potential colonization of the moon and planets.
- The CUE Review: Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment
- Variation in Fast Plants®
- Plant Light House
- Student Abstracts
Scientists Announce First-Ever Germination of Seeds Grown in Space: Another Milestone for Fast Plants®
Scientists have reported that for the first time, seeds planted in space have produced seeds that subsequently germinated.
- The Importance of Plants in Space
- Fast Plants®: A Space Odyssey
- "Launching the Seed"
- Fast Plants® Lighting Enters the 21st Century
- Pressing Matters
Teachers and Students Investigating Plants in Space
In May of 1995, the presidents of the United States and Ukraine issued a joint statement on cooperation in space, directing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU) to cooperate on a joint Space Shuttle mission (STS-87).
- Activity: Tumbling in Space
- Understanding the Environment
- Is there a Pollution Solution? The effect of salt on Fast Plants®
"AstroPlants" in Space: Simulating the Space Shuttle Experiment
While Space Shuttle Discovery was in orbit February 3 through 11, 1995, it carried a special "AstroPlants" Stock of Fast Plants. The plants were housed in an environmentally controlled Astroculture™ Unit designed by the Astroculture™ staff at the Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Try Your Luck at "Brassica Bingo"
- The Soda Bottle (Alias "Petri dish holder")