Learn more about the organizations involved in driving astrobotany and other spaceflight research forward.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is one of the oldest and most respected space organizations in the world. Spaceflight is synonymous with NASA. From the first moon landing to deep space Voyager missions, NASA is involved with all things space. It’s only logical that they have a strong vested interest in astrobotany and astrobotany research.
NASA supports astrobotany research in a variety of ways. Their interest in spaceflight plant biology dates back to the inception of the agency. As early as 1954, NASA was studying using algae for bioregenerative life support systems.
Their legacy continues today. NASA’s Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications (SLPSRA) division is responsible for astrobotany research. The International Space Station has their own VEGGIE unit where plants are grown. NASA’s BRIC (Biological Research In Canisters) program allows for plant research in space. NASA astronauts are among the first to grow plants in space. In 2014, Don Pettit grew zucchini on the ISS. In 2016, a zinnia bloomed under Scott Kelly’s care. In addition to this, NASA supports astrobotany research by awarding research grants, contracts, and much more to various universities, labs and organizations.
Related Page: NASA Target Crops
Elon Musk’s revolutionary company SpaceX has changed Earth’s rocket programs forever. The Falcon Heavy/Dragon Capsule brings materials to the International Space Station via commercial resupplies. SpaceX’s vision of a mars journey spurs and renews research into biological space sciences. It’s even rumored that Musk started the company with a specific goal in mind… he wanted to grow plants on Mars.
ORBITEC (Sierra Nevada)
ORBITEC is a Madison, WI based subsidiary of the Sierra Nevada Corporation. They have developed and continue to develop state-of-the-art biological systems for the International Space Station. Their most famous product is most likely the VEGGIE plant growth system used to produce crops onboard the ISS.
The American Society of Gravitational and Space Research is a non-profit organization that promotes research in the realm of space and gravity. Their annual meeting brings together researchers, scientists, and professionals from all disciplines to further gravitational research.
Gilroy Lab (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
The Gilroy Lab is a research lab in the botany department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is funded by NASA. The Gilroy Lab is run by Dr. Simon Gilroy and the research focus is on plant gravitropism and signaling.
Space Plants (University of Florida)
University of Florida Space Plants is a NASA funded research lab headed by Dr. Robert Ferl and Dr. Anna-Lisa Paul.
Kiss Lab (University of North Carolina-Greensboro)
Dr. John Z. Kiss researches the molecular mechanism of gravitropism and phototropism, and regularly sends astrobotany experiments to the International Space Station.
Wolverton Lab (Ohio Wesleyan University)
Dr. Wolverton is a botany professor at Ohio Wesleyan University who has sent plant samples to the International Space Station. His research focus is plant signaling.