Irradiated Seeds

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.

Voyages beyond Earth’s orbit will subject spacecraft, crew, and onboard vegetation to galactic cosmic radiation. For this study, seeds were subjected to neutron radiation, mimicking the radiation anticipated during a Mars mission. The experiment’s objective is to ascertain if such radiation exposure influences the growth and productivity of the resulting plants.

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.

Irradiated Seeds Research Protocols (REVISED 09-18-2023)

Irradiated Seeds Specific Resources: