SpaceX to Carry Two NASA Ames Space Station Experiments Friday

November 21, 2016 – 01:25 pm

Seed cassettes for Seedling Growth-1 investigation Click image for larger version.
After germination in space, seed cassettes will be packaged in EMCS cold stowage bags by the crew aboard the ISS, frozen and returned to earth in a freezer aboard a SpaceX capsule. Image credit: NASA Ames / Eric James


NASA seed cassettes loaded into EMCS experiment containers. Image credit: NASA Ames / Eric James Two bioscience payloads are scheduled to be launched to the International Space Station Friday, March 1, on the second Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) cargo resupply mission contracted by NASA. The experiments, Seedling Growth-1 and the Cell Bio Tech Demo, aim to expand knowledge of how living things respond to the harsh environment of space.

Seedling Growth-1 is the first in a series of joint NASA-European Space Agency (ESA) experiments designed to improve understanding of plant growth in space. The experiment will study how plants adapt to micro- and low-gravity environments. Researchers hope to determine the ability of vegetation to provide a complete, sustainable, dependable and economical means for human life support in space. Understanding plant growth also helps on Earth, supporting the development of strategies to optimize light sensing in plants, and modifying plant species to potentially improve crop production, lessen environmental impact and support greater sustainability of agricultural production to benefit human agriculture.

Designed and built at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., the unique hardware is mounted to ESA-built experiment containers and is completely self-contained, providing air circulation, water and light for the seeds. Once on the space station, the experiment containers will be mounted in a centrifuge in ESA's European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) to test the effects of micro- and low-gravity environments on the growth of the seeds.

"The Seedling Growth experiments are an exciting opportunity for international collaboration between NASA and ESA to support critical space flight plant experiments to benefit Earth and Space Life Sciences, " said Marianne Steele, project manager for Seedling Growth. "The data from the experiments will be shared between both NASA and ESA researchers and our team here at Ames is thrilled to be part of this fantastic adventure."

Plant biology experiments on the space station using the EMCS allow scientists to investigate plant growth and the processes within their cells to understand how plant life responds to conditions in space. The EMCS is a facility in which small organisms can grow in variable gravity conditions using a centrifuge. Other conditions, such as temperature, atmosphere composition, water supply, illumination and imaging, also are controlled in the facility.


Source: www.nasa.gov

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