'Greenhouse in space' takes root at ESRIN

MagISStra greenhouse
MagISStra greenhouse
16 February 2011

Growing plants in space will be crucial for the astronauts of the future. Paolo Nespoli, ESA's astronaut currently on the International Space Station, will conduct a special greenhouse experiment and tomorrow he will be talking to 100 Italian students that will replicate his project on Earth. ESRIN will host the event, which will be streamed live on this website.

The live streaming will start at 10:30 and will cover all activities organised through the day, with contact with Paolo Nespoli on the International Space Station taking place at 14:25.

Replay of the event

In addition to ESRIN’s audience, nearly 750 further students will follow the event from designated locations in France, Germany and Portugal.

The experiment will start with watering of some thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) set up in the International Space Station’s Columbus laboratory. The children will start their own ground experiments at the same time.

Greenhouse in space kit
Greenhouse in space - ground kit

Paolo will use a specially-developed greenhouse in space to grow plants and make observations of the life cycle. He will take still images of the growth cycle and video recordings of key steps in the germination of the plants and post them on the MagISStra website.

The schoolchildren will be able to follow and compare this with their own experiment on the ground, using a similar greenhouse and the same species of plant.

The young scientists on the ground and Paolo in orbit will follow the growth cycle of their flowering plants for about 10 weeks. The children will be encouraged to exchange their observations with each other over this period, creating a Europe-wide network that enables one experiment to link young scientists together in a special way.

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