Tune in to the livestream from 6:30pm on Wednesday, 21 September.
For more than 30 years, NASA has been working on how to grow crops in space, to support human life in off Earth. Plants could provide not only fresh food for human space travellers, they could remove CO2 and provide oxygen in enclosed habitats, as well as turning waste water into drinking water. They can also have a positive psychological effect, enhancing the environment of small and often stark space stations.
Scientists have had some astonishing results, and can now double or even quadruple world record yields from crops like wheat and potatoes. Join us for this special event featuring NASA scientists and a space horticulturalist, and hear about the edible crops grown in space and how space agriculture is already improving sustainable living on Earth
Gioia Massa is a NASA scientist at Kennedy Space Center in Florida who works on food production for the International Space Station (ISS) and future exploration endeavours. She also heads an interdisciplinary group to study fertiliser and light impacts on nutrition and flavour of space-grown crops. She also helps with science needs for other space station hardware and works with external investigators to get their science to function on the station. Dr Massa’s goal is to give residents of a future Mars habitat a better quality of life through green growing plants. Her passion is to enable NASA’s grand challenge of space colonisation as humanity transitions from a planet-bound to a spacefaring civilisation.
Ray Wheeler is a plant physiologist at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) where he leads Advanced Life Support research. Ray did his graduate work at Utah State University studying plant gravitational responses, and then went to postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin, where he studied potatoes as a candidate crop for space life support systems. His NASA research has focused on hydroponic cultivation approaches, studies of CO2 and light responses in plants, and whole canopy photosynthetic measurements.
Cary Mitchell has taught environmental plant physiology, plant growth and development, controlled environment agriculture, photobiology, and aquaponics. He’s worked with NASA’s Space Biology, Controlled Ecological Life-Support System (CELSS), and Advanced Life-support (ALS) programs. He’s been Director of two NASA Specialised Centers of Research and Training (NSCORTs) in bioregenerative and advanced life support, and served as Program Scientist for the Gravitational Biology and Ecology program at the NASA Ames Research Center. Dr Mitchell credits NASA with providing the leadership and funding for advances in lighting technology that have enabled CEA development on Earth to develop into a current growth industry with importance for food production on Earth as well as in space.
© 2016 Australian Academy of Science