The Ethylene Problem on Space Station Mir

Kai Rasmussen — Jul 11th 2018

When you grow a plant in your home or garden, how do you care for it?  Do you water it?  Do you make sure it gets enough sunlight?  Do you add nutrients to your soil? Yes, of course! Do you monitor the levels of ethylene around your plants in parts per billion? … probably not. … Read More

Blog: Happy 4th! and “Astrobotany. Is that like The Martian?”

Kai Rasmussen — Jul 6th 2018

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July! I was wearing the new astrobotany shirt (shameless plug, but I was, for real) as I ordered coffee yesterday.  I frequent Starbucks often, and the barista recognized me, as he previously asked about the other astrobotany shirt I was wearing.  Our first interaction went like this:… Read More

Dr. Gioia Massa: Growing Generations of Plant Scientists

Kai Brito and Kai Rasmussen — Jul 2nd 2018

As part of our news series, we’ll be interviewing prominent figures in astrobotany and their role in advancing the subject forward.  Our second interview is with Dr. Gioia Massa, a NASA Life Sciences Project Scientist based at the Kennedy Space Center. Our interview started with the same question we ask all astrobotanists: How did you… Read More

Blog: The Art of Writing And Please Send me Another Letter

Kai Rasmussen — Jul 1st 2018

This is Kai Rasmussen’s blog.  He is the webmaster for, recent UW biology graduate, and graphic designer.  These are updates about the process, if you are interested. If you recently sent a letter to the Botany building at UW addressed to myself and Dr. Simon Gilroy, please send us another letter!  I promise we… Read More

New Plant Experiments Successfully Launch on SpaceX CRS-15

Kai Rasmussen — Jun 29th 2018

SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon 9 rocket for commercial resupply 15 (CRS-15) to the International Space Station.  Several plants are onboard the used Dragon cargo ship. dragoon lettuce extra dwarf pak choy These two varieties were decided upon by the Fairchild Garden Growing Beyond Earth challenge.  Effectively, they were chosen by students as part of… Read More

Blog: Graduation and the Future of Astrobotany and

Kai Rasmussen — Jun 21st 2018

This is Kai Rasmussen’s blog.  He is the webmaster for, recent UW biology graduate, and graphic designer.  These are updates about the process, if you are interested. Hey, everyone!  This is my first blog post since I graduated from UW-Madison.  Well, I actually haven’t graduated yet- I had one short class I needed to… Read More

Classic Astrobotany: Let’s Grow Algae in Space

Kai Rasmussen — Jun 17th 2018

Nearly sixty-five years ago, in 1954, NASA biologist Jack Myers was one of the first scientists to test algae (Chlorella) for oxygen production and recycling of carbon dioxide.  A pioneer of astrobotany, he theorized that algae could be an essential part of a bioregenerative life support system.  This was one of the earliest examples of… Read More

A Brief History of Plant Habitats in Space

Kai Rasmussen — May 27th 2018

It’s fairly common knowledge: where you grow a plant makes all the difference.  Botanists, gardeners, and farmers alike have worked for thousands of years to perfect plant growth in any environment.  From the fields of the Midwestern United States to the arid climate of the Middle East, humans will grow plants wherever they’re needed.  And… Read More

Let’s mow grass in space.

Kai Rasmussen — May 8th 2018

Did you fellas hear?  The Dragon has returned to Earth.  The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft has returned with its latest loot haul from the International Space Station.  And it came back with some fresh grass clippings. The Dragon successfully touched down over the weekend with a load of science experiments ready for researchers.  Of importance to… Read More

New Frontiers: Tupperware for Plants in Space

Kai Rasmussen — May 3rd 2018

Target, Budweiser, and now… Tupperware joins the list of companies ready to do their part for the field of astrobotany.  Yes, you read that right, it’s everyone’s favorite container brand!  Meal prepping goes to space. Alas, it’s not Tupperware containers, but rather a sophisticated piece of equipment called the Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS). … Read More