Herb Selection

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.

Herbs can be a rich source of vital nutrients often absent in the conventional prepackaged astronaut meals. Beyond their nutritional benefits, herbs introduce a burst of flavor, freshness, and texture, addressing the culinary desires of astronauts. This experiment is designed to test several varieties of herbs for possible cultivation aboard spacecraft.

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.

Herb Selection Research Protocols

Herb Selection Specific Resources: