Feature

The Mission Continues
12.12.07
Barbara Morgan floating inside the space shuttle

Barbara Morgan spent 13 days in space on the STS-118 space shuttle mission. Image Credit: NASA

Barbara Morgan is a teacher. She is also an astronaut. She flew into space for the first time in August 2007.

Morgan was in space for 13 days. She flew on the space shuttle to the International Space Station.

She was busy while at the space station. Morgan used the space shuttle's robotic arm. The arm helps move things and people outside the shuttle.

She also helped move supplies between the shuttle and the station. The space shuttle took clothes, food and science experiments to the space station. The supplies will be used by astronauts on the space station for a year. The shuttle brought back to Earth about 5,000 pounds of trash, tools and science experiments.

Barbara Morgan sitting in front of computer equipment

Before going into space, Barbara Morgan used computers to practice some of the jobs that she would do there. Image Credit: NASA

Morgan's mission in space is over, and now her mission is to help students. She is helping students answer new questions about exploring space. Morgan wants students to help NASA find out how to grow plants on the moon.

Growing plants will be important for going into space in the future. NASA plans to send humans to the moon for months at a time. Astronauts may be able to grow plants on the moon. The plants could be used to make food.

NASA is asking students for help. NASA wants students to design and build a special box to grow plants on the moon. The box is called a plant growth chamber. Students will use seeds that flew in space to grow plants in their chambers. The seeds rode to space and back on the STS-118 shuttle mission.

To make a chamber, students will work like engineers and scientists. "We took the seeds up because we want them [students] to do what we get to do," Morgan said. "Rather than read about what scientists do, do what scientists do."

Two plastic growth chambers attached to a white surface in the space station

Astronaut Clay Anderson grew cinnamon basil and lettuce in small plant growth chambers on the space station as part of an experiment about growing plants in microgravity. Image Credit: NASA

The STS-118 mission took two small growth chambers into space. Astronaut Clay Anderson used the chambers to grow plants on the space station. Anderson grew cinnamon basil in one chamber. Basil is an herb used in foods like spaghetti sauce. Anderson grew lettuce in the other chamber. He took photos of the plants every other day for three weeks. The reason for the experiment was to show how to use small plastic chambers to grow plants in space. Students can see if their plants grew differently from Anderson's plants.

Morgan wants students to ask their own questions, too. "Some of them we can help answer, and most of them we hope they will explore and find their own answers."

Related Resources
Barbara Morgan Profile  →
Clay Anderson Profile  →
STS-118 Shuttle Mission
NASA Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber
International Space Station Plant Growth Chamber Experiment
NASA Education Web Site  →


Heather R. Smith/NASA Educational Technology Services