NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Phototropism of Rice in Microgravity (NanoRacks-MA-Phototropism) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
On Earth, plants use gravity, light and nutrients to determine which direction to sprout their roots and stems. But plants grown in space lack any gravity cues, making them more reliant on light to grow in the correct direction. NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Phototropism of Rice in Microgravity (NanoRacks-MA-Phototropism) investigates light’s effects on rice roots and shoots, providing new insight into the growth and development needs of one of the world’s staple crops.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Sam Terfa, M.S., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom:

Principal Investigator(s)
Minnehaha Academy , Minneapolis, MN, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Sam Terfa, M.S., Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, MN, United States

Developer(s)
Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, MN, United States
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
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned
47/48

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Phototropism of Rice in Microgravity (NanoRacks-MA-Phototropism) investigates the amount of positive phototropism, or growth toward the light, the shoots demonstrate and the amount of negative phototropism, or growth away from light, the roots demonstrate.
  • NanoRacks-MA-Phototropism uses an automated process to expand a clear, moist medium around rice seeds to initiate germination. The clear medium provides a way to analyze the behavior of the rice seeds’ root and shoot growth.
  • The benefit of this research is to provide information about the factors affecting growth of edible rice plants in microgravity. The implications of this research are not only biological in nature (growing food in space), but also mechanical (new method of automated growth process).

Description

Phototropism is the tendency of plants to grow toward a light source. The NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Phototropism of Rice in Microgravity (NanoRacks-MA-Phototropism) project seeks to examine the behavioral response of rice plants to a directional light source both in microgravity and on earth in order to ascertain the growth factors of rice seeds.
 
Three rice seeds (Oryza sativa japonica) are suspended between a layer of plastic mesh and a one-ply Kleenex tissue, suspended on grooves about 1 cm high in a hexagonal growth chamber. Sodium polyacrylate powder (0.025 g) is siliconed to a piece of Anchor germination paper that is itself siliconed onto the base of the growth chamber. Distilled water (2.7 mL) is pumped into the chamber via a hole in the bottom right corner of the chamber onto the germination paper containing the sodium polyacrylate in order to create an expanded gel. The gel fills the bottom of the unit and gently bends the mesh, thus surrounding the seeds and inducing germination.
 
Two white LEDs at the top corners of the chamber turn on for three days with a 12 hour photoperiod cycle. The upper left corner LED turn off after the three days so that the right LED is shining alone for ten days with the same photoperiod of 12 hours. After ten days, the first LED stops cycling on and off and the upper left corner LED turns on, using the same photoperiod cycle of 12 hours for ten days. Every 12 hours, the pump adds 200 µL of water to the chamber. A camera outside the chamber, facing the clear plastic sealed side of the chamber, takes a picture every 12 hours with both LEDs on.

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Applications

Space Applications
Future missions to asteroids, the Moon, Mars and other destinations will require crews to grow their own food. Plants evolved with Earth’s gravity, but crops on spacecraft or other celestial bodies will not be able to sense gravity in the same way, making them more reliant on light to grow in the proper direction. This investigation provides new information on growing rice, a staple crop around the world, in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station.

Earth Applications
Results provide new information on how light and gravity affect rice plant growth. Rice is a resource-intensive crop that requires plenty of water and room to grow, so understanding gravity’s effect on its development could benefit development of vertical rice paddies, conserving space. In addition, students in 10th-12th grade at Minnehaha Academy designed the experiment in the school’s Applied Research and Engineering class, developing real-world experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

NanoRacks Module-21 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 module transmits 1 VGA quality photo every 12 hours along with a text file that communicates system temperature and multiple user-variables.
 
Crew interaction with Module-21 is limited to transferring the NanoRacks locker Insert from the launch vehicle to the International Space Station, 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
Minnehaha ISS/ARA

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Imagery

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The NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Phototropism of Rice in Microgravity (NanoRacks-MA-Phototropism) investigation:  the camera is shown in proximity to the rice seed growth chamber; the black box behind the growth chamber supports the water storage bag, micropump, and tubing. Two LED’s are shown protruding through each of the upper corners of the growth chamber. Image courtesy of Minnehaha Academy.

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image The essential components of the NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Phototropism of Rice in Microgravity (NanoRacks-MA-Phototropism) microlab, including water storage bag, Mikrotechnik mp6 piezoelectric micropump, check valve, growth chamber, and LED’s. Image courtesy of Minnehaha Academy.
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Photo of the rice seed growth chamber for the NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Phototropism of Rice in Microgravity (NanoRacks-MA-Phototropism) investigation. The bottom includes sodium polyacrylate attached to Anchor germination paper. Three rice seeds are attached to the under side of the white screen suspended in the chamber. The custom 3D printed chamber has a groove at the top for holding tubing, two openings for attaching LED’s, and a Gore-Tex covered opening for gas exchange. Image courtesy of Minnehaha Academy.

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2016 Minnehaha Academy NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Phototropism of Rice in Microgravity (NanoRacks-MA-Phototropism) student team with mentors. Image courtesy of Minnehaha Academy.

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