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Artemis 3 to include Space Lab's LEAF Plant Science Experiment
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Artemis 3 to include Space Lab's LEAF Plant Science Experiment
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Apr 02, 2024

Space Lab has been selected to send its pioneering plant science experiment, LEAF, to the moon as part of NASA's Artemis III mission. This marks a significant milestone as Artemis III aims to return humans to the lunar surface for the first time in the 21st century.

The mission's focus is on deploying scientific instruments through the Artemis III Deployed Instruments (A3DI) initiative, targeting research that benefits from direct human involvement on the Moon. LEAF (Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora) will explore the impact of the lunar environment on plant growth, crucial for future astronaut nutrition and life support systems.

The experiment, dubbed LEAF Beta, is designed to shield plants from harsh lunar conditions like extreme sunlight, space radiation, and vacuum, while monitoring their photosynthesis and stress responses. It will feature a controlled growth chamber for various plant species including Brassica rapa, Wolffia, and Arabidopsis thaliana. These findings, especially those from samples returned to Earth, will be instrumental in assessing how space conditions affect plant physiology at the molecular level.

Previously, the 2019 Chang'e 4 mission by China briefly studied a cotton sprout on the moon, but it ended prematurely due to equipment failure. LEAF aims to provide a comprehensive study on how lunar conditions affect plant life, enhancing our capability for long-term, sustainable agriculture beyond Earth. According to Space Lab Vice President Christine Escobar, this research is a critical step in utilizing space agriculture to support human crews, facilitating extended stays on the moon and future missions to Mars.

The LEAF project team comprises a blend of Space Lab's own experts and renowned scientists from various institutions, including NASA Kennedy Space Center, University of Colorado at Boulder, Purdue University, USDA, La Trobe University, and the University of Adelaide. Space Lab, located in Boulder, CO, focuses on creating technology that enables humans to live and work in space independently. "We consider ourselves space habitat outfitters, developing sustainable solutions for humanity's greatest journey," says Escobar.

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Study brings scientists a step closer to successfully growing plants in space
Urbana IL (SPX) Mar 14, 2024
New, highly stretchable sensors can monitor and transmit plant growth information without human intervention, report University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers in the journal Device. The polymer sensors are resilient to humidity and temperature, can stretch over 400% while remaining attached to a plant as it grows and send a wireless signal to a remote monitoring location, said chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Ying Diao, who led the study with plant biology professor and de ... read more

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