NanoRacks-Girl Scouts of Hawai`i- Arugula Plant Growth (NanoRacks-GSH-Arugula Plant Growth) - 08.27.15

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Microgravity affects the growth of cells in animals and plants, which has implications for future space food production. NanoRacks-Girl Scouts of Hawai`i- Arugula Plant Growth (NanoRacks-GSH-Arugula Plant Growth) examines the difference between arugula seedlings grown in microgravity, both with and without nutrients, and a control experiment grown on Earth, with and without nutrients. Plants that are grown in a nutrient-rich base are generally healthier for humans, and this investigation determines whether gravity also affects plant nutritional content.
 
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Colleen LaClair, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-18 S/N 1002

Principal Investigator(s)
Girl Scouts of Hawai`i , Girl Scouts of Hawai`i, Honolulu, HI, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Colleen LaClair, Girl Scouts of Hawaii, Honolulu, , HI, United States
Gail Mukaihata Hannemann, Girl Scouts of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, United States

Developer(s)
Girl Scouts of Hawai`i, Honolulu, HI, United States
NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration 1
March 2014 - September 2014

Expeditions Assigned
39/40

Previous ISS Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Girl Scouts of Hawai`i- Arugula Plant Growth (NanoRacks-GSH-Arugula Plant Growth) seeks to determine the impact that various nutrients and microgravity have on the growth and nutritious value of food grown in space.
  • If the NanoRacks-GSH-Arugula Plant Growth results in microgreens that are grown in space having nutritious value, this may enable NASA and astronauts to grow and consume fresh, healthful food in space.
  • The benefit of this investigation may be that astronauts can potentially sustain themselves with fresh and healthful food that is grown and harvested in space and offer a more cost effective means to provide food for the astronauts by eliminating expensive flights to space to deliver goods.  Another benefit may be the contribution of valuable information to the body of scientific research on growing fresh food in space.

Description
The team decided to build on the NanoRacks-Girl Scouts of Hawai`i-Microgreen Plant Growth (NanoRacks-GSH-Microgreen Plant Growth) that was conducted by the 2013 Girl Scouts Hawai`i team. A review of the 2013 investigation found that all the hardware remained intact with no leakage of fluids and all software and physical mechanisms ran according to plan. However, four of the eight seeds in that experiment grew roots but no foliage (greenery). 


This year’s team decided to conduct another horticulture investigation and went through weeks of researching and reviewing ideas to do a hydroponic, aquaponic, or worm-ponic experiment.  They decided to test the effects of microgravity on a microgreen arugula plant grown hydroponically.  The girls chose this particular experiment for two reasons: 1) to contribute to the body of scientific research on growing produce in space; and 2) to examine ways to make Hawai`i more sustainable.

Simultaneously, while the MicroLab is connected into the NanoRacks Platform on the International Space Station (ISS), the girls conduct a controlled experiment here on earth. The control is programmed to run the same as the experiment on the ISS. The analysis is a comparison of the MicroLab arugula and the control arugula’s physical attributes and overall growth pattern during germination and through the optimal harvest period which is 10-12 days following germination. The mission data is then used to determine if and how arugula grown in microgravity could be a viable fresh produce for future space missions.
Differences between last year’s and this year’s investigations include the establishment of a horticulture group in addition to the team’s engineering, design, programming, and communications groups, the use of two MicroLabs – a single 2U MicroLab, two controllers, and two unique interface boards that control one experiment, the functions of photo capture, photo lighting, grow lighting and watering are shared between the two (2) controllers, and three plant grow tubes this year as compared to a single tube last year.

As a result of the team’s unique design and engineering of a duo MicroLab experiment, which required individual lab testing, Valley Christian High School (VCHS) had to modify the hardware in the rack to accommodate four labs to enable the capability to test/run each lab independently.  This modification is now a standard for future VCHS ISS MicroLab racks.

Making the team’s experiment even more complex, they developed a hypothesis based on not only one grow tube, but three.  All experiments are subject to the same inputs of light, moisture, temperature, growth medium, water and seed source.   One tube contains seedlings with an organic nutrient, one tube contains seedlings with a synthetic nutrient, and one tube has no nutrients. 

Grow tubes (snap top micro vials), light-emitting diode (LED) lights, arugula seeds, purified water (from Menehune Water Company), PVC water line tubing, PVC water bag, micro valve for controlling water flow, assorted integrated circuit (IC) chips, resistors, capacitors, and connectors.

Programming and electronic interface circuitry manages the water bag, timing of the water cycle, grow lights and photo frequency. The experiment is designed to function for the duration of the flight onboard the ISS.

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Applications

Space Applications
NanoRacks-GSH-Arugula Plant Growth aims to grow salad greens with a high nutritional value. Findings from the investigation may lead to crewmembers growing, harvesting and consuming fresh food in space, and adds to the growing body of scientific research on space-based food production. Fresh food cultivated in space would reduce costly cargo missions to resupply the International Space Station.

Earth Applications
A team of eight Girl Scouts devised the experiment, developing new skills in scientific research, decision-making and project management. The team is studying three questions whose answers have implications for horticulture on Earth. All experimental seedlings have the same light, water, growth medium and temperature, but different nutrients:  one tube contains organic nutrients, one tube contains synthetic nutrients, and one tube has no additional nutrients. Understanding how these changes alter the plants' growth and nutritional value may lead to new agricultural approaches that consume less fertilizer but still yield healthy food crops.

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Operations

Operational Requirements
NanoRacks Module-18 is completely autonomous and only requires installation and removal.

Operational Protocols
Crew interaction with NanoRacks Module-18 S/N 1002 is limited to transferring the NanoRacks locker insert from the launch vehicle to the ISS, installation and activation of the NanoRacks Frames into the EXPRESS Rack Locker, cleaning of the air inlet filter (as necessary) and data retrieval (as needed) during the mission.

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Imagery

image Duo MicroLab interface circuit boards, grow tubes, water bag and end caps for the NanoRacks-Girl Scouts of Hawai`i-Arugula Plant Growth (NanoRacks-GSH-Arugula Plant Growth) investigation.  Image courtesy of Girl Scouts of Hawai’i.
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image Plant grow lights inside the NanoRacks-Girl Scouts of Hawai`i-Arugula Plant Growth (NanoRacks-GSH-Arugula Plant Growth) investigation.  Image courtesy of Girl Scouts of Hawai`i.
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image Plant grow tubes and water bag for the NanoRacks-Girl Scouts of Hawai`i-Arugula Plant Growth (NanoRacks-GSH-Arugula Plant Growth) investigation.  Image courtesy of Girl Scouts of Hawai`i.
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image The NanoRacks-Girl Scouts of Hawai`i-Arugula Plant Growth (NanoRacks-GSH-Arugula Plant Growth) investigation team.  Image courtesy of Girl Scouts of Hawai`i.
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