planting in space

Our Science Investigation    



  Program Introduction   

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Receives $1.25 Million Grant From NASA. The Objective is for the students in our class to conduct a scientific investigation that will identify plants that can be potential candidates for growth on board the International Space Station (ISS).

 Background Information    

As humans continue their exciting and on-going quest to explore the reaches of outer space, there is much to be done to ensure that brave space explorers are equipped with all they need in order to survive and successfully complete their missions. Some things that are necessary in terms of needs: 1)Breathable air 2)water 3) appropriate shelter 4) reliable transportation & 5) food!

Pre-packaged food prepared for astronauts on current missions is specially processed to last for several years. That food isn't as healthy. In adittion to the quality of the food and the tastiness, the fact that missions are getting longer means that the need for fresh food later during the mission will be a must for deep space exploration. Having the right mindset will be as well.

For many years, life scientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) have been working on food production for bio-regenerative life support. Humans and plants are ideal traveling companions as they are interdependent upon each other for oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nourishment.


Most recently, plant scientists on the KSC team have created and tested a device, a space garden called Veggie, in which plants have been successfully grown in space. Dr. Gioia Massa, the lead scientist for this project, tested Veggie as a means of providing astronauts and future Mars explorers with fresh plants for food and for the aesthetic ambience plants provide. Veggie is a small plant growth chamber designed to grow fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Veggie has been on the International Space Station (ISS) since 2014 when the first crop of red romaine lettuce, a variety called ‘Outredgeous’ was grown. In the summer of 2015, a second crop of lettuce was grown on ISS and the astronauts were actually allowed to eat the fresh leaves from this second grow out. 

  Purpose of our Experiment    

In this laboratory investigation, students will grow selections of leafy greens, root vegetables, herbs, and other types of plants. Fairchild will provide a selection of seeds to the students, one baseline crop, 3 assigned plants or plant varieties and one student choice. Students will be asked to research the plants or cultivars and conduct a plant phenology study. The control for all schools will be “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce. The students will, using the scientific method, which is a major standard in all science classes, design their experiment to investigate which plants would be the best candidates for possible cultivation on the ISS. The experiment will include the use of dependent and independent variables and the use of basic statistics (averages (mean) and standard deviation). In further experiments students will be encouraged to manipulate the experimental variables to see if they can develop better ways of growing the crops. Students will also be encouraged to first grow two groups of crops, identify lessons learned, and then apply those lessons by growing subsequent sets of crops. Students can repeat this process as time allows (always applying lessons learned from the previous crop grow-out to the next set of crop grow-outs) in order to increase the amount of data and information being collected about those plant cultivars.

  Our Observations   

As our Science Investigation develops, we will be tracking the growth of our plants in a spreadsheet shared with Fairchild. Below we will have daily pictures of our plants, seperated by trial. If you have any questions, please contact us. We 

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