NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-The Effect of an Electric Field on Plant Growth Experiment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth) - 09.27.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
On Earth, the presence of an electrical field can encourage seeds to germinate and can help plants grow. NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-The Effect of an Electric Field Generated by High Voltage on Plant Growth Experiment in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth) exposes Wisconsin fast plant seedlings to a high-voltage electrical field in microgravity. Results provide new information about plant germination in space, benefiting efforts to grow plants for food on future missions.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by James Nadir, B.S. EE, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom:

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

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
James Nadir, B.S. EE, Valley Christian Junior 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
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-Valley Christian High School-The Effect of an Electric Field Generated by High Voltage on Plant Growth Experiment in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth) determines if microgravity produces new and useful properties on plant growth in an electric field generated by high voltage.
  • NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth also examines if airflow to a chamber in the microgravity environment through a tube with the aid of a pump keeps the temperature inside the chamber to a level that the plant is able to survive.
  • An understanding of plant development aids in improving crop production and agricultural yields on Earth, and during long-term spaceflight.

Description

NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-The Effect of an Electric Field Generated by High Voltage on Plant Growth Experiment in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth) examines how an electric field effects a plant's root growth in space with the objective to determine if useful properties can be used on earth in space. The high voltage consists of two storage 0.001 uF tantalum capacitors rated at 1 KV, a coupled coil, and two 555 IC timers. The circuit is a charge pump with a total energy storage less than 20 µJ. Total power consumption of the circuit is 25 mA, which is divided between two IC timers and a 5 V output driver to a coupled coil.
 
The observation chamber is a cylinder shape of approximately 2.0" height by 0.5" radius that holds 4 AsteroPlants, Wisconsin fast plants seeds, single layer (1 sq inch) germination paper, and 0.25 cubic inches of OASIS grow foam. The seeds are sitting on a piece of growth paper that supplies the seeds with nutrients. The growth paper is placed on top of the OASIS grow foam, which absorbs water. The seeds are dormant and activated aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by pumping distilled water into the growth chamber.
 
Two piezoelectric pumps are used. They are powered by the MP6-OEM control board, which draws 40 mA at 5 V. The pump is the MP6 manufactured by Bartels. Without power, the pump is fluidically open. A Beskwick Engineering check valve is used to prevent seepage of water into the bags while the unit is unpowered. One VGA camera (c329) is used to record root growth. Photo light comes from two white LEDs and it remains ON during the course of the experiment.
 
The optimal temperature range for Wisconsin fast plant environment is 22-28°C (72-82°F). Continuous power is needed for a minimum of 15 days after the first 28 duration hours of intermittent power. Thereafter, power can be momentarily interrupted without significant disruption to the experiment. The experiment is designed to function for the duration of the flight on board the ISS but it can be shut down after 10 days if needed.

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Applications

Space Applications
Plants will be crucial sources of food and oxygen on future space missions, but they will have to grow in harsh environments, surrounded by radiation and electrical fields from spacecraft equipment and life support systems. This investigation studies how a high-voltage electrical field affects seed germination in microgravity, and is compared to a companion investigation that studies plant growth without any electrical field. The investigation uses Wisconsin fast plants, known for their fast germination and growth.

Earth Applications
Students in grades 9 through 12 at Valley Christian High School designed this investigation as part of the school’s goal to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts. Teachers and industry mentors provided guidance while students designed, tested and built the experiments.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

NanoRacks Module-22 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 first 15 days have the most data transmitted including photographs along with environmental data (humidity and temperature). The payload chamber needs to be returned to the researchers so its contents can be examined.
 
Crew interaction with Module-22 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

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HVP PBC Board for the NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-The Effect of an Electric Field Generated by High Voltage on Plant Growth Experiment in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth) investigation. Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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High Voltage circuitry for the NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-The Effect of an Electric Field Generated by High Voltage on Plant Growth Experiment in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth) investigation. Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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Schematic Diagram for the NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-The Effect of an Electric Field Generated by High Voltage on Plant Growth Experiment in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth) investigation. Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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Plant Chamber with water bag for the NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-The Effect of an Electric Field Generated by High Voltage on Plant Growth Experiment in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth) investigation. Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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Block Diagram for the NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-The Effect of an Electric Field Generated by High Voltage on Plant Growth Experiment in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth) investigation. Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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