New plants just arrived at the International Space Station

Four new plant experiments launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on the SpaceX CRS-24 cargo mission: APEX-07, MVP-Plant-01, Plant Habitat-05 and Veggie PONDS-03R.

The APEX-07 experiment has been to the ISS once before. It flew on CRS-22 in summer 2021. However, although the experiment was successfully completed, there was a problem transferring the samples back to Dragon for their trip home and 24 (out of 60) got left behind. That meant the scientists wouldn’t be able to get the data they needed, and so APEX-07 gets another flight.

APEX-07 uses the model plant Arabidopsis, growing on plates that are stacked in racks and placed in the Veggie growing chamber. It investigates how the spaceflight environment affects gene expression in plants. Spaceflight can change which genes turn on/off, the type and amount of proteins produced, and the modifications made to those proteins. That’s all controlled by RNA, so APEX-07 analyses the role of RNA regulation on gene expression in roots and shoots during spaceflight.

MVP-Plant-01 is another experiment designed to investigate how the stresses of the spaceflight environment affect plants. A better understanding of their stress responses could help us develop plants that grow better in space.

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