NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment Experiment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Just as crew members lose muscle mass and bone density in microgravity, plant cell walls are weaker in space, hampering plant growth and posing a challenge for food supplies on future space missions.  NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment Experiment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment) studies whether a constant low vibration could serve as an alternative force to gravity, providing plant cell walls with a source of pressure that induces them to grow stronger.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

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

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-21 S/N 1003

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

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Katie Agahi, Valley Christian High School, San Jose, 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
Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - March 2016

Expeditions Assigned
43/44,45/46

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The cell wall strength of plants in space is insufficient for healthy growth. The lack of gravity in space and consequently the lack of pressure on the plants does not allow for the cell walls to grow to be fortified.
  • NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment Experiment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment) tests the hypothesis that in a microgravity space environment a source of pressure such as vibration, boosts the cells defense mechanisms and causes the cell walls to grow stronger.
  • Wisconsin fast plants are chosen for their rapid growth cycle. Speakers are used as a source of a 60 Hertz vibration for the plants. An internal camera records growth of the plants.

Description
NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment Experiment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment) tests the hypothesis that in a microgravity space environment a source of pressure such as vibration, boosts the cells defense mechanisms and causes the cell walls to grow stronger. The lack of gravity in space and consequently the lack of pressure on the plants does not allow for the cell wall strength of plants in space to be sufficient for healthy growth. The plants to be used are Wisconsin fast plants, chosen for their rapid growth cycle. Speakers are used to create an environment of 60 Hertz vibration for the plants. NanoRacks-VCHS-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment has a cylindrical chamber inside. On one end of the chamber, is a layer of AeroFoam, a substance that sustains the plants and act as a soil, with seeds inside. Within the AeroFoam are fertilizer pellets that foster the plant growth. On the other end of the chamber an LED provides light for the plants, and a camera that allows the growth of the plants to be tracked on the ground. A water bag and fluid control valve outside of the cylindrical structure with pipes that connect to the AeroFoam supply the plants with water. Through capillary action, the water disperses throughout the AeroFoam and to the seeds. The speakers are on the bottom of the AeroFoam and the vibration permeates through the foam and to the plants.

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Applications

Space Applications
Plants grow differently in space, in part because the lack of gravity and subsequent loss of pressure cause their cell walls to weaken. This investigation studies the hypothesis that an artificial source of pressure, such as vibration, could boost cells’ defense mechanisms and cause cell walls to grow thicker. The plant subjects are Wisconsin fast plants, a species related to broccoli that can reach maturity in 28 days. Results improve plant growth efforts on future space missions.

Earth Applications
Students at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, CA, designed the investigation, gaining real experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts. Students learn about the challenges of spaceflight and design experiments aimed at improving the lives of future space travelers, fostering a deeper connection to the space program.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

Data collection within the experiment is automated; downlink is done via scheduled STELLA/NanoRacks command window intervals for the NanoRacks Platform. Payload is ambient and soft-stowed, but late loaded (approximately L-72 hr) and an early return.

Crew interaction is limited to transferring the NanoRacks Module from the launch vehicle to the ISS, installing the Module into a NanoRacks Platform, activating the NanoRacks Platform, data retrieval (as needed) during the mission, and destowing and returning the Module.

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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

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The NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment Experiment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment) team from San Jose, CA. Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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Performing plant growth ground testing for the NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment Experiment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment). Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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Assembling the NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment Experiment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth in a Vibration Environment). Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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