Growing plants in space is a new challenge.
Plants have evolved to be grow on earth, but not in space. Similar to humans, we must test terrestrial organisms to understand how they adapt and respond to spaceflight. Plants are not an exception. We must understand how they are affected by space environmental stress, not just terrestrial stressors.
Plants experience molecular stress during spaceflight.
Current astrobotany research shows that we have difficulty growing plants in space. Microgravity, ionizing radiation and oxidative stress are all factors that influence astrobotany experiments. Often, plants experience immense symptoms similar to external stress factors in space.
Related Page: Stressors of Spaceflight
Plants are a critical part of bioregenerative life support systems.
A bioregenerative life support system will be a critical part of human spaceflight expeditions in the future. One of humanity’s major goals in regards to extensive space travel is to sustain itself in a spacecraft. We want to eliminate the need for resupply by growing plants in space. Space agriculture is very important for future spaceflight. Not only do we need to feed future astronauts, but we also need to keep them well in the realm of mental health. Astronauts report feeling very grounded when viewing plants in space.
Astrobotanist Professor Simon Gilroy answers the question: “How long does it take to grow a tree in space?”