Samples from the Seedling Growth investigation aboard the International Space Station help researchers study the impact of the microgravity environment on plant growth. (NASA)

Why Study Plants in Space?

11.27.12

Why is NASA conducting plant research aboard the International Space Station? Because during future long-duration missions, life in space may depend on it.

The ability of plants to provide a source of food and recycle carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen may prove critical for astronauts who will live in space for months at a time. In addition, plants provide a sense of well-being. At the McMurdo Station for research in Antarctica — a site that in the dead of winter resembles the space station in its isolation, cramped quarters, and hostile environment — the most sought after section of the habitat is the greenhouse.

NASA and the European Space Agency, or ESA, are studying how plants adapt to micro- and low-gravity environments in a series of experiments designed to determine the ability of vegetation to provide a complete, sustainable, dependable and economical means for human life support in space. As researchers continue to gain new knowledge of how plants grow and develop at a molecular level, this insight also may lead to significant advances in agriculture production on Earth.

Read more: NASA – Why Study Plants in Space?.

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