NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Growing Wisconsin Fast Plants, Chives, and Dandelions in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Improved Multiple Plant Growth ) - 09.27.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Plants on Earth reach toward the sun despite the influence of gravity, so the microgravity environment of space changes how they grow. NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Growing Wisconsin Fast Plants, Chives, and Dandelions in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Improved Multiple Plant Growth) uses high-intensity lighting and improved irrigation to study whether it is easier to grow certain crop plants in space, where there is no gravity to thwart them. Crops in space can provide alternative fresh food sources for crewmembers on long-duration missions.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Werner G. Vavken, B.S.EE, M.Ed, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-18 S/N 1002

Principal Investigator(s)
Valley Christian High School , Valley Christian High School, San Jose, CA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Werner G. Vavken, B.S.EE, M.Ed, Valley Christian High School, CA, United States

Developer(s)
Valley Christian High School , San Jose , CA, 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
March 2014 - September 2014

Expeditions Assigned
39/40

Previous Missions
NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School Plant Seed Growth (NanoRacks-VCHS Plant Seed) NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Plant Growth (NanoRacks-VCHS-Plant Growth)

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Growing Wisconsin Fast Plants, Chives, and Dandelions in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Improved Multiple Plant Growth) determines if it is easier, or plausible, to grow plants in microgravity since there is almost no gravity to go against the growth of the plant. It also provides information that allows for research of plant and biological life in space.
  • NanoRacks-VCHS-Improved Multiple Plant Growth demonstrates how an improved irrigation system and high intensity lighting has an effect on plant growth in a microgravity environment.
  • NanoRacks-VCHS-Improved Multiple Plant Growth provides an alternative source of food and nutrition for the scientists and astronauts in space during long-term missions or emergency situations.

Description
Flight hardware design for NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Growing Wisconsin Fast Plants, Chives, and Dandelions in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Improved Multiple Plant Growth) consists of a custom-made, pressurized water storage that contains the water and miracle growth solution to nourish the seeds. A light-emitting diode (LED) printed circuit board (PCB) that consists of nine surface-mount LEDs produces high-intensity lighting for the plant seeds to perform photosynthesis. A wide-angle view camera records data images of the growth of the plants. Four regular, white LEDs are adjacent to the camera and provide lighting for the data images. Without the four regular, white LEDs, the data images would be dark. A Camera/Valve/LED PCB and Expansion PCB are the electrical aspect of the project. The Camera/Valve/LED PCB is the major PCB that includes connections to the camera, water control valve, the regular LEDs, and the LED PCB. Since NanoRacks-VCHS-Improved Multiple Plant Growth uses a two-unit MicroLab, the Expansion PCB offers the Camera/Valve/LED PCB a 90 degree translated orientation so the camera is able to directly face the plant incubators containing the plants.  A 3-D designed and printed water manifold evenly distributes the nutrients to the seeds through internal channels within the water manifold. A water valve controls distribution of nutrients on a programmed schedule. The water control valve is scheduled to open five times throughout the operation. The water control valve opens for 800 milliseconds, 600 milliseconds, 200 milliseconds, 200 milliseconds, 200 milliseconds, respectively, for each of the five periods when the water control valve is open. Polycarbonate tubes hold the seeds and act like incubators for the plant seeds. Teflon tubes contain the nutrients and intertwine the water storage, valve, and water manifold. Wisconsin Fast Plants seeds, chive seeds, and dandelion seeds are included, to be the testing subjects of the experiment.

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Applications

Space Applications
The investigation examines novel ways to produce food in space, improving nutrition and providing crewmembers with a healthy, fresh alternative to cargo-delivered meals. Constant sources of light and fertilizer are used to grow dandelions, chives and other seeds, which are watered with a specially designed, 3-D printed watering system.

Earth Applications
Students who designed and built the investigation learned skills valuable in electrical, mechanical and software engineering, including use of a 3-D printer to manufacture a specialized part. Their results could lead to new ways to produce food crops in space and on Earth, using high-intensity light and fertilizer.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
NanoRacks Module-18 is completely autonomous and only requires installation and removal. During operation photographic data is sent to investigators to track experiment progress. The first 3 days have the most data transmitted (about 16 VGA quality photos along with environmental data (humidity and temperature). Thereafter, transmission is limited to 1 VGA photo and environmental data per day for the remainder of flight. The payload chamber needs to be returned to the researchers so its contents can be examined and analyzed under an atomic force microscope.
Crew involvement with NanoRacks Module-18 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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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Imagery

image The NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Growing Wisconsin Fast Plants, Chives, and Dandelions in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS- Improved Multiple Plant Growth Experiment) investigation team.  Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.
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