Plant Signaling (STS-135)
The Plant Signaling experiment studied the effects of microgravity on plant growth. During long-term space exploration it will be necessary to provide astronauts with regenerative sources of food. As new information about how plants grown in microgravity emerges, sustainable plant-based life support systems may be developed.
The Effect of Spaceflight on Transgenic Arabidopsis Plants With Compromised Signaling
Principal Investigator: Dr. Imara Perera, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
Payload Developer: NASA Ames Research Center
Plant Signaling studied the effects of gravity (0 and 1g) on the biochemical responses of Arabidopsis thaliana plant seedlings (roots and shoots; wild type and genetically modified plants). Images of seedlings were captured and down-linked to Earth during the on-orbit experiment. Plant samples were harvested at the end of the experiment and preserved on orbit for post-flight analysis on Earth.
The experiment was conducted in the European Space Agency's (ESA) European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS), located on the International Space Station (ISS) in the Columbus Module. Sixteen Experiment Containers (ECs) containing Plant Seedling Seed Cassettes (with Arabidopsis seeds) were launched on Space Shuttle Atlantis and installed by the crew into the EMCS. Personnel on Earth at ESA’s Norwegian User Support Operations Center (N-USOC) initiated an automated software command sequence for hydration of the seeds, atmospheric control, image capture, lighting, and centrifuge speed (g-level). Automated image capture was performed according to the experiment timeline. At the conclusion of the experiment, ECs were removed from the EMCS Facility and the Seed Cassettes were removed from the ECs. Seed Cassettes were placed in EMCS Cold Bags and stowed in the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer on the ISS (MELFI), where they remain until they are returned to Earth. The empty ECs are in ambient stowage on ISS until they are returned to Earth for refurbishment.
It is planned that the ECs will return at ambient on the SpaceX Demo flight in 2012. The scientifically-vital frozen cassette samples are manifested for return on SpaceX-1 in August 2012. For this return flight, the samples will be transferred to the General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator (GLACIER) in the SpaceX Dragon capsule which will maintain them at -80°C.
While this project addresses basic research questions in plant biology, the research will also provide insights into the cultivation of plants during spaceflight on long-term missions. Ultimately, understanding mechanisms of plant development will aid in improving crop production and agricultural yields on Earth.
Launched: July 8, 2011, Final Shuttle Flight
Orbiter Mission Number: STS-135
Increment: Ascent on STS-135 Increment 28; operation Increment 29-30; descent on SpaceX-Demo (ECs) and SpaceX-1 (Frozen samples)
|Principal Investigator||Dr. Imara Perera, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina|
|Co-investigator||Dr. Heike Winter-Sederoff, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina|
|Co-investigator||Dr. Christopher Brown, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina|
|Research Associate||Caroline M. Smith, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina|
|Project Manager||Dr. Marianne Steele, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Operations Lead||Dr. David Heathcote, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Science Test Lead||Dr. Robert Bowman, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Project Scientist||Dr. Gwo-Shing Sun, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Test and Verification Engineer||Kristofer Vogelsong, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Test and Integration Engineer||David Leskovsky, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Operations||Chris Barreras, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Quality Assurance||Robert Burney, NASA, ARC|
|Safety||Susan Suffel, NASA, ARC|
|Mechanical Engineer||Edward Houston, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Electrical Engineer||Al Howard, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Systems Engineer||Lance Ellingson, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Science Lab Support||Tisha Crittendon, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Engineering Technician||Marty Galinski, Lockheed Martin, ARC|
|Engineering Technician||Joseph Dwyer, Dynamac, ARC|
||Ms. Cecilia Wigley, NASA, ARC|