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Sending Plants to Space
University of Florida Experiment to Study How to Grow Plants in Space


Scientists have been sending plants to space practically since the beginning of space flight. The latest experiment, sequencing genomes of plants grown and harvested in orbit, is being launched on February 14 as part of the SpaceX CRS-10 mission. Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX

Researchers from the University of Florida are launching plants into space on February 14 in an effort to understand how to grow plants in an environment with no gravity. When plants are exposed to a new environment, their gene expressions have to adapt, and since zero gravity is outside the evolutionary experience of plants, new genetic patterns will be needed.

The plants will be sent on the SpaceX CRS-10 mission to the International Space Station, where experimental plants will be grown, harvested, and returned to Earth. Once they are back on solid ground, scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will sequence the genomes to see what changes in gene expressions occurred in orbit.

By studying how plants grow in space, the researchers hope to have a better understanding of how plants might respond to a changing earth, as well as have a stronger base for sending plants into space in the future.

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September 21, 2019, 11:50 pm PDT

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