NASA Tests Ways to Reduce Stress in Plants Growing in Space

The Science Verification Test for NASA’s Advanced Plant Experiment-08 (APEX-08) takes place inside the Veggie growth chamber at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 6, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Lucy Orozco

When astronauts embark on long-duration missions in the future, crews will grow food to supplement what they can bring with them. More than 20 years of continuously living and working in space aboard the International Space Station has provided many opportunities for crews and researchers to observe the challenges of growing plants in the stressful conditions of microgravity.

One experiment on NASA SpaceX’s 23rd Commercial Resupply Services mission to the space station will help determine the effect of plant stress responses to the microgravity environment. The Advanced Plant Experiment-08 (APEX-08) will grow Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant scientists routinely use for research. The study includes making genetic alterations that elicit a response in the pool of polyamines, a group of organic compounds that modulate plant responses to environmental stress.

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