During his mission on the International Space Station, ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli attempted to grow plants in a miniature greenhouse. At the same time, European schoolchildren and the Mars500 crew ran the same educational experiment to compare results.
The seeds were sown in many varied school environments. The seeds on the Space Station were weightless, whereas the seeds in the Mars500 simulated spacecraft were in isolation for 17 months with no sunlight.
Growing plants in space will be crucial for astronauts of the future. When flying to Mars or even further, it will be necessary to produce fresh food and become partially self-sufficient.
Tending plants can be rewarding and following an actual experiment as it is performed in space is an exciting way to engage children with biology and chemistry
The results and conclusions of this experiment are now available for teachers to download in the language of their choice. Click on the download links to the right for the documents in PDF format.