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