Plants in Space
Content in this section supports the concept of growing crops in space and the symbiotic relationship between plants and space travelers. Plants in space are beneficial for a number of reasons. They provide nourishment for the body when eaten as food, and they improve the quality of indoor air. Plants take the carbon dioxide from air to produce oxygen that humans can breathe. Find information about how plants, people, microbes and machines work together in self-contained space vehicles.
What's for dinner on the moon? Astronauts will need to grow food when they return to the moon and eventually travel to Mars. Join the challenge to design and build a lunar plant growth chamber.
Educator Guides for Lunar Plant Growth Chambers:
- Moon Munchies Educator Guide (Grades K-4)
- Packing Up for the Moon Educator Guide (Grades 5-8)
- Lunar Plant Growth Chamber Educator Guide (Grades 9-12)
Life Science Themed Units and Camps (Grades 4-6)
NASA's Summer of Innovation Project provides theme-based units: The Body, Food, Life Out There?, Plants, and Survival. Professional development training modules are available for educators on the website.
Hydroponic Systems Activity (Grades 9-12)
Students work with one or more hydroponic systems and collect data for a four-week period to determine which system resulted in the best plant growth.
Elementary students participated in a plant growth experiment with astronauts on the space shuttle. View video segments about the experiment at the links below.
- Why Scientists Study Plants in Space -- Learn the reasons scientists at NASA study plants in life support facilities.
- How Plants Grow in Space: The Effects of Gravity and Light -- Watch how students performed a controlled experiment in their classroom with sprouting seeds and compared them with those sprouted on the space shuttle.
- Tropisms of Plants in Space and on Earth -- See examples of tropisms and how they affect plant growth.
- Evaluating Experimental Treatment: Controls of Plants Growing in Space -- Watch as an astronaut on board the space shuttle compares the plants he grew in space to those of students on Earth.
- Discussion Points About Growing Plants in Space -- Compare plants grown in space and on Earth. Some were grown in light and others were grown without light.
Our World: Plants in Space
Find out how plants use light to make their own food in a process called photosynthesis.
Meet NASA scientists Dr. Carlos Calle and Dr. Ray Wheeler as they talk about work done inside the Space Life Sciences Laboratory. Dr. Calle talks about the challenges of protecting NASA assets from dust in space, the moon, Mars and other stellar locations. Dr. Wheeler talks about growing plants in space that could help astronauts protect themselves from radiation via their diet.
Space Seeds Return to Earth
Seed pods from a commercial gardening experiment aboard the International Space Station were returned to Earth.
In Search of Moon Trees
Scattered around our planet are hundreds of trees that were grown from seeds that had been to the moon and back again. Find out if one is in your neighborhood.
You're "stuck" on the moon or relocated to Mars. How are you going to survive for months and possibly years without resupply? This is the challenge you face in the Biogenerative Life Support System Sim.
BLiSS Sim is only available for the iPad.
Why is NASA conducting plant research aboard the International Space Station?
Station Investigation to Test Fresh Food Experience
Astronauts can grow vegetables in the VEGGIE system on the space station.
Why Grow Plants in Space?
Plant research results contribute to NASA's goals of furthering human exploration of space and improving the quality of life on Earth through applications in medicine, agriculture, biotechnology, and environmental management.
Growing Plants and Vegetables in a Space Garden
A space station study is helping investigators develop procedures and methods that allow astronauts to grow and safely eat space-grown vegetables.
Radishes and Rockets
Researchers hope to determine how to keep the plants healthy in the growing conditions within a spacecraft.
Prozac for Plants
How do you grow plants on Mars? Step one: Relieve their anxiety.
Plant Research on the International Space Station
Scroll down the list to read about plant biology experiments on the space station.