Germination on the Space Station
“The beans and rocket seeds have germinated. The experiment is going well,” confirms ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori to ESA’s Mission Control Centre in Oberfaffenhofen, Germany.
Marco Casucci (Azimuth Roma), Principle Investigator (PI) for the Agrospace Experiment Suite (AES), together with Giuseppe Colla (Tuscia Università, Viterbo), received this welcome confirmation through the Lazio User Centre (LUC). The LUC, located in Tor Vergata (Rome), was set up in order to facilitate information exchanges between PIs and ESA’s Mission Control Centre in Oberfaffenhofen.
Agrospace Experiment Suite deals with the germination of beans and plants in space and is the only experiment during the Eneide Mission to have both an educational (Space Beans for Students) and a scientific (Seedlings) component.
Space Beans for Students consists of a sealed plastic bag containing six bean seeds which are taped to a paper towel. The Seedlings experiment consists of two sealed plastic bags: each of them contains two grams of rocket seeds, fixed to a paper towel. The experiment started on Monday morning, when Roberto Vittori added water to the bags.
“Seedlings is an experiment which could be important in the future, for long duration space missions,” explains Casucci. “If we are able to demonstrate that astronauts can grow rocket sprouts, we are a step closer to improving their diet and their lives in orbit”.
The Space Beans for Students experiment is part of the educational programme of ESA’s ISS Utilisation Strategy and Education Office. Primary schools from Rome, Civitavecchia and Pisa have been involved in the experiment.
On Earth children are performing the same experiment as Vittori is doing on board the ISS. They are cultivating bean seeds in the classroom, thanks to a kit provided by Azimuth Roma, which is identical to the real one used by the European astronaut. i
“The children are really enthusiastic about the project,” tells Antonia Tancredi of the Direzione 192 of the Circolo Didattico in Rome. “The children and Vittori simultaneously started the experiment on Monday morning. Vittori takes a photo every day to record the bean development. So far everything is going well. The children are very curious as to what will happen. Even the children’s parents are getting involved!”
In the coming days, children will be able to compare the growth of their classroom seeds to that of the growth logged by Vittori on board the ISS.