Seedling Growth-1 (SpaceX-2)
Seedling Growth-1: The first in a series of joint NASA-European Space Agency (ESA) experiments aiming to help us understand plant growth in space.
The major goals of the Seedling Growth-1 experiment are to determine how gravity and light responses influence each other in plants and to better understand the cellular signaling mechanisms involved in plant tropisms - plant movement and growth.
Payload Developer: NASA Ames Research Center
NASA PI: Dr. John Z. Kiss, The University of Mississippi, Oxford
ESA Co-PI: Dr. F. Javier Medina, CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Launch Date: March 1, 2013 SpaceX-2
Return Date: December 2013 (No Earlier Than), SpaceX-3
Payload Overview NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are collaborating on a series of experiments to help us better understand plant growth in space. The Seedling Growth-1 plant biology experiment is the first in a series of Seedling Growth experiments to be performed in the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) facility aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This project builds on previous spaceflight experiments on the ISS with the EMCS using the model plant Arabidopsis.
In the Seedling Growth-1 experiment, Arabidopsis seeds will germinate and grow in space. Researchers will study the growth of the seedlings to better understand the thresholds of gravity and light perception in plants and the relationship between red and blue light sensing in plants.
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. Learning how plants adapt to micro- and low-gravity environments will help researchers 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 on Earth.
The unique Seed Cassette hardware used for the Seedling Growth-1 experiment was designed and built at NASA's Ames Research Center. The NASA hardware is mounted to ESA-built Experiment Containers. The hardware is self-contained and provides air circulation, water, temperature control and light for the seeds.
Crew aboard the ISS will mount the Experiment Containers containing the Seed Cassettes into a centrifuge in ESA's European Modular Cultivation System to test the effects of varying levels of low-gravity on plant growth. After the experiments in space are completed, ISS crew will package the Seed Cassettes into EMCS cold stowage bags and freeze them. The Seed Cassettes will return to earth in a freezer aboard a SpaceX capsule.
The Seedling Growth series is part of a NASA/ESA Barter Agreement and supports both a NASA principal investigator (PI), Dr. John Z. Kiss, University of Mississippi, and an ESA PI, Dr. F. Javier Medina, CSIC, Madrid, Spain.
The Seedling Growth-1 payload launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon vehicle on March 1, 2013. Frozen samples of the seedlings grown aboard the space station are expected to return to Earth aboard SpaceX-3.
Click to view the June 5, 2013 NASA video Space Station Live: Seedling Growth.
The Naked Scientists Question of the Week podcast entitled "How do plants grow upwards?" features comments from Seedling Growth-1 Principal Investigator Dr. John Z. Kiss. Click on the following link to listen (May 24, 2013): http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/show/20130524/