The Astro Garden, used in the Educational Payload Operations - Kit C Plant Growth Chambers (EPO-Kit C), is a small, unpowered chamber used for growing plants in microgravity. Plants are grown from seeds that have been preplanted in a plastic root module; the shoots are contained within a flexible bellows.Facility Manager(s)
Orbital Technologies Corporation, Madison, WI, United States
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Expeditions Assigned
15Previous ISS Missions
ISS Expedition 15 was the first mission for the Astro Garden.
The Astro Garden is a small plant package consisting of three separate components: the growth chambers, the syringe, and five drink bags. The growth chamber is the primary element of the package and consists of a root module assembly to house the seed and hold the plants in place, a root-shoot barrier to contain the root medium, and an expandable bellows assembly to contain the plant while allowing light to reach it. The drink bags are filled from an on-orbit water supply, while the syringe provides the ability to add water to the root module. Once the water is added, the growth chamber is placed near an existing crew lighting source that will provide the illumination necessary for growth. The hardware can be used multiple times in on-orbit missions without refurbishment. Additional growth chambers can easily be supplied to support future missions.
The Astro Garden measures 17.8 cm x 10.1 cm x 5 cm collapsed and 17.8 cm x 10.1 cm x 25.4 cm fully extended. It weighs 0.337 kg and requires no power.
The Astro Garden is sent into microgravity dry and containing preplanted seeds; it can remain in stowage on orbit for several months prior to experiment initialization. To initiate the experiment, water is added to the root module using the syringe, and the chamber is placed near an existing light source. Crewmembers add water as needed, observe the growth, and eventually harvest the plants.