A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The UNCG-led experiment will launch Thursday on a similar SpaceX rocket. (Credit: NASA)

A UNCG-led spaceflight experiment – that may ultimately help humans grow plants on Mars and the Moon – will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, June 1, at 5:55 p.m. on SpaceX CRS-11.

Spearheaded by Dr. John Z. Kiss, dean of UNCG’s College of Arts and Sciences, the joint NASA-European Space Agency (ESA) experiment is the third in a series of studies that examine how light and gravity control plant growth and development. The knowledge gained from the experiment, Seedling Growth-3, will help scientists understand how to effectively and efficiently grow plants in space.

“Plants are integral as we plan for long-term manned space missions and the development of colonies on the Moon and Mars – bringing all food and supplies necessary for a long-term mission or for colonization is not tenable,” said Kiss, who also serves as a professor of biology. “To make human habitation of other worlds a possibility, we need to be able to grow crops in greenhouses in space. If astronauts can grow their own food, then we have created a new paradigm for space travel and habitation.”

Additionally, the results may help improve crop production on Earth, particularly in harsh environments.

Read more about space exploration at UNC Greensboro.

 

Originally published May 31, 2017. Written by Alyssa Bedrosian.

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