The research project of three twelfth-grade students will have the scientific and financial sponsorship of BASF as they send their experiment to astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS). The students from the ag program at Edith Stein School in Ravensburg, Germany have created an experiment to test plant growth in microgravity conditions, specifically plant cuttings.
Prior research done in the field of space-farming has focused on seedling roots and how they respond to the lack of gravity. The students’ experiment questions if roots and leaves can develop from cuttings in space to produce food. If it turns out that cuttings can be used, it would be a huge step in supplying long-term space flights, like missions to Mars, with food.
“We are excited about this project and about working with forward-thinking young people who strive for groundbreaking ideas and innovation. With our 100 years of experience in agriculture, it has been a thrilling challenge to investigate what could come next and how to achieve the ultimate goal of growing and reproducing plants on a space station,” said Dr. Harald Rang, Senior Vice President Research & Development, BASF Crop Protection.
To ensure the success of the experiment, the student research team is currently developing an appropriate experimental design for the ISS. BASF is providing knowledge on how to keep the plants healthy and free from fungal disease during the foreseen 30 days in the ISS environment. The students will do an internship with experts at the BASF Agricultural Center in Limburgerhof, Germany, before conducting trials at Kennedy Space Center laboratories in Florida.