Did you watch SpaceX and NASA launch Crew-5 to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, the 5th of October? Bryan Onate made a brief appearance to talk about the plant experiments that will be happening on the ISS soon.
First up is Plant Habitat-03 (PH-03), an experiment growing the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH). The aim of PH-03 is to grow the plants through their entire lifecycle so that they produce seeds in space. That’s been done before, but not very often. Collecting small seeds in microgravity is challenging, and PH-03 uses special seed collection bags.
Seeds produced in orbit will be returned to Earth, processed, and then sent back into space for a second-generation planting, so there’s a lot going on with PH-03! The principal investigator is Dr. Anna-Lisa Paul from the UF Space Plants Lab, who recently talked about her work growing Arabidopsis in Moon rock in episode 45 of Gardeners of the Galaxy.
Bryan also talked about VEG-05, an experiment that will see dwarf tomatoes (‘Red Robin’) growing in the Veggie growing system. VEG-05 will test two different lighting conditions to see which produces the best tomato harvest, and the astronauts will be able to eat some of the tomatoes. The crew may have to take the place of space bees and hand pollinates the plants, as they did with the space chiles grown in 2021.
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