Dynamic Lighting

As NASA looks toward a long-term human presence beyond Earth’s orbit, there are specific science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) challenges related to food production in space. Established in 2015 as a partnership between Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and NASA’s Exploration Research and Technology Programs, Growing Beyond Earth (GBE) enables student community scientists to actively contribute data toward NASA mission planning.

Plants react to varying light wavelengths in interesting ways. Manipulating the proportions of red, blue, and green light can significantly alter a plant’s size, shape, and growth rate. This experiment seeks to understand the effects of adjusting light color balance during specific growth phases. The overarching aim is to pinpoint a lighting regimen that maximizes yield, taste, and nutritional value while minimizing energy use.

On the International Space Station (ISS), resources for growing plants are limited. In closed system agriculture, every gram, ml, and kilowatt is accounted for. This year, NASA scientists need your help to determine the optimal light solution for maximizing plant growth while minimizing the input of the other resources e.g. plants prefer certain wavelengths to grow. To produce those wavelengths more or less electricity is needed to have plants grow faster but also more water is needed to increase the yield. The comparison of kwhours/g or liters/g are great factors to compare the yields exposed to different environmental conditions. As with all GBE trials, this trial will require very detailed and accurate data collection and note-taking.

Dynamic Lighting Research Protocols

Dynamic Lighting Specific Resources:

Teacher Workshop Recordings and Presentation

2023-2024 Introduction to Growing Beyond Earth Presentation by Dr. Gioia Massa (video)
2023-2024 Introduction to Growing Beyond Earth Presentation (powerpoint)
Dynamic Lighting Workshop Presentation (video)

For additional resources, please visit the Teacher Resources webpage.