The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft on board, will launch early Monday from NASA's facility in Virginia.  It's cargo will include seeds for plants that will be analyzed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland.

PNNL will study plants grown at the International Space Station

A handful of seeds will blast off towards outer area early Monday with a load of provides for the International Space Station.

The seeds will be planted in the area station subsequent month, and tended as they develop right into a wispy weed whereas the area station orbits Earth at 17,000 miles per hour.

The harvest will be returned to Earth for study by scientists, together with a crew in Richland.

Researchers led by scientist Mary Lipton at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) on the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory campus will obtain a snippet of every plant.

“The space environment is stressful for all living organisms,” says a National Aeronautics and Space Administration abstract of the study. “Understanding how plants respond will help crews on future missions successfully grow plants for food and oxygen generation.”

Washington State University in Pullman is the lead on the $2.three million study, dubbed The Final Frontier Plant Habitat.

The seeds being despatched to the area station are from the plant Arabidopsis, a piece horse for the scientific neighborhood as a result of a lot is thought about them. They are associated to cabbage and mustard.

Some of the seeds will be equivalent to these of untamed plants and others have been modified by WSU Regents Professor Norman G. Lewis to lack regular quantities if lignin, the fibrous substance that enables plants to develop upright.


Mary Lipton, a scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, poses at the Kennedy Space Center in entrance of a replica of the habitat that will develop plants on the International Space Station.

Courtesy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Scientists are considering how the plants develop in the area station with out the gravity of Earth. For occasion, will the plants nonetheless develop “up” in a microgravity atmosphere?

When the plants are lower than a foot tall, they will be harvested and shipped again to Earth.

They’ll arrive with loads of knowledge. More than 180 sensors will take detailed measurements as the plants develop on the area station.

A management group of equivalent plants will be grown at the similar time at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to permit comparisons of the area plants with these grown below the drive of gravity.

Researchers will be learning whether or not the two teams of plants have the similar dietary values and charges of oxygen launch.

EMSL’s position will be to look at the proteins in the plant samples that its scientists obtain.

Proteins perform the features of cells, and researchers will be on the lookout for the variations in quantities or sorts of proteins in the plants that grew properly and those who didn’t.

The lab’s mass spectrometry gear will be used for the analysis, aided by the lab’s computing functionality to investigate massive quantities of information.

Researchers at EMSL have the scientific experience to judge the voluminous knowledge anticipated from about 100 plant samples.

Researchers at different establishments will be wanting at genetic and metabolism variations in the plants. The University of New Mexico and the Los Alamos National Laboratory are also collaborating in the study.

“The overall significance is what it could mean for space exploration,” Lewis mentioned. “Whether it’s colonizing planets, establishing a station, or for long-range space travel, it’s going to require maintaining air and food for artificially supported environments.”

Some of the findings additionally might present insights into how plants may higher adapt to emphasize on Earth.

To watch the rocket launch at 1:39 a.m. Monday, go to

Annette Cary; 509-582-1533; @HanfordNews

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