NanoRacks-Surya Institute Indonesia-Oryza Sativa Plant Growth in Microgravity Conditions (NanoRacks-SII-Plant Growth) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Rice is a staple food for billions of people on Earth, but it requires large amounts of water and room to grow. NanoRacks-Surya Institute Indonesia-Oryza Sativa Growth in Microgravity Conditions (NanoRacks-SII-Plant Growth) observes how rice seeds germinate in microgravity and in the absence of light, two cues plants need to grow on Earth. Results from this investigation improve efforts to grow food with limited resources in space.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

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


Principal Investigator(s)
Surya Institute Indonesia , Banten, Indonesia

Syailendra Harahap, Surya Institute Indonesia, Banten, Indonesia

Surya Institute, Jakarta, Indonesia

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

^ back to top

Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Surya Institute Indonesia-Oryza Sativa Growth in Microgravity Conditions (NanoRacks-SII-Plant Growth) determines how the growth of Oryza Sativa and its roots differs with that on earth and affected by microgravity and lightless conditions.
  • NanoRacks-SII-Plant Growth also explores the methods on how to grow plants in space, specifically a staple food such as rice, which requires lots of water. This investigation explores the different needs and feasibility of growing rice in weightless, confined conditions as opposed to on earth.
  • The benefit of this research is to acquire knowledge in how to cultivate foodstuffs and plants in a confined, weightless environment that is useful in supporting astronauts for planned, long-term missions.
  • Another benefit is the knowledge gained is useful in selecting suitable foods for cultivation in space.
  • Another benefit is that the impacts of gravity and light towards plant growth are also better explored. This knowledge leads people to develop more efficient methods of cultivating staple food like rice.


NanoRacks-Surya Institute Indonesia-Oryza Sativa Growth in Microgravity Conditions (NanoRacks-SII-Plant Growth) examines the extent Oryza Sativa growth is affected by gravity and light with the objective to acquire knowledge on how to cultivate foodstuffs in a confined, weightless environment for long-term missions, or leading to development of more efficient methods to cultivate staple foods like rice on earth. Five Oryza Sativa rice seeds in dormant condition are secured by medical gauze above the germination paper and oasis, inside a chamber. The program is set to pump 6 mL of water after the first day to activate the dormant seeds. A camera has been set at the opposite end of the chamber to photograph its direction and behavior in growth. On earth, two major factors affect and determine the growth of plants; gravity and light. The condition of the experiment is lightless except during picture taking. It has been observed and studied that the direction and location of light determines the growth direction of plants, as well as the direction of the roots. Gravity to an extent also determines the direction of the roots. Researchers have long observed that plants develop a number of strategies in order to receive as much sunlight as possible for photosynthesis, and are caused by the plant’s hormone called auxin. This hormone is produced first by the tip of the shoot, and then passed on to the rest of the cells. This enabled plants to grow towards almost every direction where the light is located, as proposed by Dutch researcher Frits Went through his Cholodny-Went model in 1937. By removing the independent variable light, the experiment is narrowed down into one independent variable; gravity. In effect through this investigation it is possible to determine the different behavior of this auxin hormone in microgravity conditions with that on earth.
Two miniature piezoelectric pumps (mp6 from Bartels Mikrotechnik GmbH, Germany) are used to deliver (1) water from a vinyl water pack into the growth medium, which consists of germination paper and oasis inside the observation chamber, (2) air pump which pumps air inside the observation chamber to remove a buildup of ethylene gas inside the chamber. The excess ethylene gas goes through holes, which are filtered with Gore-Tex to release air yet waterproof water. The observation chamber is a PVC tube with length 2.2” and diameter 0.6”, and the medium of growth is a 0.4” sterile oasis and germination paper. Water and air are delivered into the chamber via hoses. A camera sits opposite of the chamber, and is used to take pictures of the growth of the plant. This means the pictures acquired observe the development of the plants in an approach perspective. Programming and electronic interface circuitry is set to do an inspection photograph and preliminary irrigation 24 hours after plugged in, pumping around 6 mL of water by pumping 21 times 5 second pulses. This is then followed with turning on air pumps at all times and only turning it off when a picture of the chamber is taken every 12 hours, and routine irrigation of 0.9 mL in 3 times 5 second pulses every 48 hours.
Temperature is suitable at around normal NanoLab temperatures, at around 90ºF (32ºC). Continuous power is needed for the whole duration of the flight onboard the International Space Station (ISS), although a continuous minimum power of 12 days is needed to finish 75% of its water pack resources and ensure the growth medium is relatively moist. The experiment is designed to last through the whole duration of flight onboard the ISS.

^ back to top


Space Applications
Crews traveling on long-duration voyages to the moon, Mars, asteroids or other destinations will need to grow their own food supplies, but water and physical space will be limited on future spacecraft. This investigation studies how microgravity affects the germination of rice, a staple crop that usually requires large amounts of water and room to grow. In addition, students in Indonesia designed and built this investigation, gaining real-world training and inspiration for the next generation of aerospace workers.

Earth Applications
Plants sense gravity and light to germinate and grow, and these cues are different or missing in the microgravity environment of space. Understanding how gravity affects rice growth can help scientists develop more efficient methods of cultivating rice, a very resource-intensive crop that billions of people rely on for food. In addition, the investigation was designed and planned by six students in Indonesia, ranging from grades 9 through 11, as part of their school’s efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts.

^ back to top


Operational Requirements and Protocols

NanoRacks Module-18 is completely autonomous and only requires installation and removal. During actual operation, photographic data is sent to the investigators to track the progress of the experiment. The payload chamber needs to be returned to the researchers so its contents can be examined using several appropriate instruments.
Crew interaction with 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.

^ back to top

Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

^ back to top

Results/More Information

Information Pending

^ back to top

Related Websites

^ back to top


Diagram of the NanoRacks-Surya Institute Indonesia-Oryza Sativa Growth in Microgravity Conditions (NanoRacks-SII-Plant Growth) module. Image courtesy of Surya Institute Indonesia.

+ View Larger Image