GSSM Students to Assist NASA in Plant Research for Long-Term Space Missions

January 25, 2021

This coming semester, GSSM’s Biology instructor, Dr. Jennifer Brown, and her botany class will assist NASA in determining the conditions to grow plants at the International Space Station (ISS) as part of Fairchild Garden’s Growing Beyond Earth (GBE) program. 

“My Botany class will be collecting data on the growth of extra dwarf bok choy grown under an established set of light conditions, with more blue light than red or white light,” said Dr. Jennifer Brown. “This is an unusual year for the GBE program where they are providing set parameters for participating schools to address, from varying fertilizer ratios, various day lengths, or different ratios of white, red, and blue wavelengths.” 

Now in its sixth year, GBE was created due to NASA’s need to grow suitable crops for long-term space missions. Crops and chambers are outsourced to over 235 middle and high schools across the country, each with its own distinct variables of temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, nutrition, water, and more. By the end of the program, NASA can see which plants grew well in more environments and conduct similar trials in space.  

 “I always say that if you can get plants to grow in 50 different classrooms, it’ll probably grow in space,” said Veggie project manager Trent Smith in this year’s welcome video. 

The students will present the outcome of their experiments to the program’s lead scientists in April.  

Click here for more information on Growing Beyond Earth. You can also check the progress in the coming months by following @SCGSSMbotany on Twitter.