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Lunar Plant Growth Chamber Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

›  What is the NASA Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber?
›  What is a plant growth chamber?
›  What is the engineering design process?
›  Who can participate?
›  Is the challenge open to higher education students?
›  How can students outside the United States get involved?
›  What do I get when I participate?
›  Why did NASA choose to fly basil seeds?
›  Where do I find information about cinnamon basil seeds?
›  How long were the seeds in space? Were the seeds exposed to space or stored inside the shuttle or space station?
›  Can I get training or attend a workshop to learn about the challenge?
›  What is the deadline for completing the challenge?
›  How was mission specialist Barbara Morgan involved with the engineering design challenge?
›  What do plant growth chambers have to do with STS-118 and the Vision for Space Exploration?

Answers

Q: What is the NASA Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber?

A: The NASA Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber is an opportunity for students, K-12, to help solve a real-world problem NASA is facing for future space exploration -- how to sustain resources on the moon.

Students in K-12 can design and/or build their own version of a lunar plant growth chamber. Educators can order basil seeds that have flown in space on the International Space Station. Those seeds, with a control set of seeds, can be used to evaluate the students' designs.

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Q: What is a plant growth chamber?

A: A plant growth chamber is a system or unit designed to sustain plant life.

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Q: What is the engineering design process?

A: Design is the first step in the making of a product or system. Engineering design has a number of defining characteristics: It is purposeful, based on certain requirements, systematic, iterative and creative -- and there are many possible solutions. Students will participate in the engineering design process and learn how to conduct a scientific experiment.

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Q: Who can participate?

A: Classroom educators, museum and science center educators, home school educators and youth organization leaders can participate.

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Q: Is the challenge open to higher education students?

A: The challenge is intended for students in K-12, but could easily be adapted for higher education environments by encouraging students to work with K-12 classrooms in designing their chambers.

The Challenge Web site (http://www.nasa.gov/education/plantchallenge) has additional resources such as background information, career spotlights, references on the scientific method and the engineering design process, as well as educator guides for building a lunar plant growth chamber.

Plant growth will be an important part of space exploration in the future as NASA plans for long-duration missions to the moon.

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Q: How can students outside the United States get involved?

A: Seed packets are only available for distribution to residents of the United States, U.S. Territories and Outlying Areas (American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Midway Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands). Because the focus of the project is to design and build plant growth chambers for long-duration missions, any type of seed can be used to evaluate the chamber. The activity is not limited to the space-flown basil seeds. Choose a seed or plant that is most recognizable to your students.

The Challenge Web site (http://www.nasa.gov/education/plantchallenge) has additional resources such as background information, career spotlights, references on the scientific method and the engineering design process, as well as educators' guides for building a lunar plant growth chamber.

Plant growth will be an important part of space exploration in the future as NASA plans for long-duration missions to the moon.

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Q: What do I get when I participate?

A: You may download a NASA certificate of participation.

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Q: Why did NASA choose to fly basil seeds?

A: Basil seeds have a quick germination rate. They are hearty. Their size (mass and volume) enabled the astronauts to bring more, thereby allowing NASA to distribute more and reach more people. Basil seeds are recognizable to students. They adapt well to growth medium.

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Q: Where do I find information about cinnamon basil seeds?

A: NASA has partnered with Park Seed Company to supply the seeds. For more information on the seeds, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/plantgrowth/partnerships/index.html.

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Q: How long were the seeds in space? Were the seeds exposed to space or stored inside the shuttle or space station?

A: The seeds were part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment, or MISSE-3 and -4, which were flown on the International Space Station for a year. MISSE was a series of suitcase-sized test beds containing many different materials, including seeds that were placed outside the station to test how they withstood the harsh environment of space.

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Q: Can I get training or attend a workshop to learn about the challenge?

A: All workshops on the challenge have been completed.

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Q: What is the deadline for completing the challenge?

A: There is no deadline, but there is a limited supply of seeds.

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Q: How was mission specialist Barbara Morgan involved with the engineering design challenge?

A: Morgan delivered the plant growth chambers to the International Space Station. Expedition 15 flight engineer Clayton Anderson conducted a 20-day plant growth germination investigation. Morgan talked about the challenge and videotaped some demonstrations while on orbit.

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Q: What do plant growth chambers have to do with STS-118 and the Vision for Space Exploration?

A: Plant growth will be an important part of space exploration in the future as NASA plans for long-duration missions to the moon. NASA scientists anticipate that astronauts may be able to grow plants on the moon, and the plants could be used to supplement meals.

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Page Last Updated: November 3rd, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator