NanoRacks-Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy-Determining the effect of microgravity on the decay of vegetable mater (NanoRacks-JKHA-Composting in Space) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Fresh vegetables and other plant matter begin to decay after a few days, due to complex interactions with air, water and other molecules. Plant matter can break down more quickly in compost, which can be used to enrich soil and improve agriculture. NanoRacks-Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy-Determining the effect of microgravity on the decay of vegetable matter (NanoRacks-JKHA-Composting in Space) studies how microgravity affects the decay of plant matter and compost on the International Space Station, comparing results with a ground-based experiment. 
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Jeff Tabachnick, M.A., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-9 Ext S/N 1014

Principal Investigator(s)
Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy , Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, Livingston, NJ, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Jeff Tabachnick, M.A., Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, South Orange, NJ, United States

Developer(s)
Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, Livingston, NJ, 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
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2014 - March 2015

Expeditions Assigned
39/40,41/42

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy-Determining the effect of microgravity on the decay of vegetable mater (NanoRacks-JKHA-Composting in Space) is needed to determine how well composting can be accomplished in a microgravity environment. Longer space voyages may need to compost to recycle waste.
  • If composting is viable in space, it reduces waste and weight on manned missions that leave low-Earth orbit.

Description
NanoRacks-Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy-Determining the effect of microgravity on the decay of vegetable mater (NanoRacks-JKHA-Composting in Space) examines the rate of decay of compost and fresh vegetable matter in microgravity compared to Earth’s gravity. NanoRacks-JKHA-Composting in Space determines how well composting can be accomplished in a microgravity environment. Waste is a problem for any manned mission. Longer space voyages may need to compost to recycle waste. Decomposing of organic waste can reduce the problem and help prevent diseases. If microgravity can improve waste decomposition, it may be possible to imitate the space conditions and create more efficient decomposition systems on earth. For the investigation, the MixStix is removed from the container, and the separator on the tube is removed. The tube is shaken vigorously for several seconds to ensure that it is mixed thoroughly. Pictures are taken at regular intervals to record the progress of decomposition.

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Applications

Space Applications
Crew members on manned missions have all the resources they need, but once they’ve used those resources, they have to dispose of organic waste. This can be both costly and risky. If composting is a viable method for disposing of organic waste in space, manned missions beyond Earth orbit could have greatly reduced waste and weight requirements. Composting organic waste could also prevent the spread of diseases contained in organic material.

Earth Applications
Results from this investigation provide insight into whether microgravity improves the rate at which organic matter decomposes. If it does, Earth-based waste decomposition could be enhanced to imitate low gravity, making the process more efficient. In addition, the investigation was prepared by students in a space-related after-school program, which connects them to the space program and provides real-world training in science, engineering, technology and math.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
The MixStix are unclamped to combine different compartments, typically causing either activation or deactivation of the experiment. The MixStix are returned to the students. Pictures of the tube are taken at daily/weekly intervals for 4 weeks.
A crew member removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 Ext lid. The crewmember unclamps the fasteners on the MixStix as directed, enabling the materials in the various chambers to flow. The crew member then shakes the MixStix (when directed) to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all MixStix. Crewmember notes the time of MixStix activation and replaces the tubes back in Module-9. The lid is replaced and secured with the Velcro tabs.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
NanoRacks

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Imagery