Plants provide sustenance, oxygen and a sense of mental wellbeing, all of which can be hard to find in space. Being able to grow plants on space missions is valuable, but it’s also challenging. To make it easier, the European Space Agency needs more data on how different plants behave under different conditions, and AstroPlant is a way the public can help to gather that information.
The AstroPlant project lets anyone who’s interested grow plants in a small, enclosed system, similar to the ones used on the International Space Station. You can remotely change the conditions the plants are growing in, monitor how they’re doing and submit your findings through an app. If they do well, that can help to tell the European Space Agency what plants might thrive on space stations. If the plants die immediately, that’s valuable information as well; it’s easier to grow plants successfully in space if you already know what can go wrong.
Below, you can find our diary entries from our own experience growing an AstroPlant, and some more general articles about growing plants in space. It’s a fascinating topic, and we’re taking a look both at its history and at newer developments.