I don’t know about you, but until I read/saw The Martian I never really thought about all of the potential complications that would come with trying to grow plants and/or crops in space.
I mean, I’m not a scientists or an astronaut, so it just never entered my mind – even though obviously the lack of things like water and oxygen would be an issue.
If you’re curious now, here’s how NASA and other smart space people are trying to engineer a way to actually get plants to grow up there.
Two of those smart people are Anna-Lisa Paul and Robert J. Ferl out of the University of Florida, who are leading the charge from the Space Plants Lab.
They’re using a weed, Arabidopsis thaliana, which is also known as mouse ear cress, thale cress, arabidopsis, and is commonly known as “crackwort.” With it, they are learning how to cultivate plants in extreme environments like the ones we would certainly encounter on other planets – and that we also might find on Earth more and more commonly in the near future.
Part of the issue is how many intense and rapid condition changes they would have to endure – changes that affect their genes, metabolism, and growing patterns.
This video shows how some of the experiments are going, and the researchers themselves are checking in with some discussions on their findings.
NASA also has a blog, Diary of a Space Zucchini by NASA astronaut Don Pettit, if you want to know more – without the added drama of Matt Damon doing surgery on himself.
I don’t know about y’all, but I feel an internet rabbit hole coming on, because all of this is way more interesting than I figured it would be.
What would be the plant you’d have to take with you to space, because you couldn’t live without it?
Let us know in the comments!