Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

LED lights used in plant growth experiments for deep space missions

Date:
September 11, 2012
Source:
NASA
Summary:
What kind of food will astronauts eat and what is the best way to grow it during deep space exploration missions? A group of plant biologists is seeking the answers as it works on one of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Habitation Projects at Kennedy Space Center's Space Life Sciences Laboratory.

Dr. Matthew Mickens, a plant biologist from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, measures Cherry Bomb Hybrid II radish plants harvested from a plant growth chamber Aug. 3 inside the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The plant experiment at Kennedy is part of the Advanced Exploration Systems program in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
Credit: NASA/Frank Ochoa-Gonzales

What kind of food will astronauts eat and what is the best way to grow it during deep space exploration missions? A group of plant biologists is seeking the answers as it works on one of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Habitation Projects at Kennedy Space Center's Space Life Sciences Laboratory.

Related Articles


Gioia Massa, a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow in the Surface Systems group of Kennedy's Engineering Directorate, works on this AES Habitation-related Project.

For this experiment, Massa said they looked at the responses of a red leaf lettuce called "Outredgeous" and radish plants to different light sources -- broad spectrum fluorescent lighting and solid state red and blue LED lighting.

"LED lights are efficient and versatile," Massa said. "Because of their durability and long life, they are ideal for space missions where resupply of things from Earth is limited."

According to Dr. Ray Wheeler, lead for advanced life support activities in the Engineering Directorate, using LED lights to grow plants was an idea that originated with NASA as far back as the late 1980s.

Some of the first NASA-funded tests were done at the University of Wisconsin and at Kennedy using wheat and just red LEDs. Wheeler said the wheat plants were very leggy and almost bleached out.

"Blue LEDs weren't very good back then, so using blue fluorescent lights helped correct those problems," Wheeler said. "Today's LEDs have vastly improved in their efficiency."

Dr. Matthew Mickens, a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and recipient of the NASA-sponsored Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship, followed the plants' growth during his tenure at the center.

During a recent harvest of the plants, Mickens measured the plants' shoot length, the shoot diameter, total fresh mass or the weight of the plants at time of harvest, total dry mass of the edible plant matter accumulated during the growth cycle, and the leaf area index.

He used a chlorophyll meter to measure chlorophyll content. Then Mickens flash-froze some of the plants in liquid nitrogen and ground them to a powder in order to perform a new test, an adenosine triphosphate analysis, which measures stored energy in the plant tissue.

"One of the objectives of the study was to understand the effects of green light on plant growth," Mickens said.

For the test, he compared the growth responses of the lettuce and radishes grown under a treatment of red and blue LEDs, and a treatment of broad spectrum white fluorescent lamps with green light present.

"I discovered that there were considerable physiological differences between the two treatments," Mickens said.

According to Mickens, results showed darker red color under the red and blue LEDs, which indicates a higher concentration of anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that can combat some of the effects of cosmic radiation. Additional replications of the crop cycles are currently ongoing to further confirm these observations.

"Even subtle changes in light quality can potentially increase antioxidant properties of crops such as the lettuce used here," Mickens said. "The nutritional quality of the vegetables meant to feed our astronaut explorers can be controlled by proper selection of lighting used to grow these crops during long range space missions beyond low Earth orbit."

There is evidence that supports fresh foods, such as tomatoes, blueberries and red lettuce are a good source of antioxidants, according to Wheeler.

"How they are grown and then consumed in space could have a positive impact on people's moods and could protect against radiation in closed environments," Wheeler said.

"As we learn more about different light sources we can better configure the lights to more efficiently product plants that will produce food for the crew, recycle the atmosphere and help to recycle water," Massa said.

"Ultimately, we would like to develop closed-loop bioregenerative technologies that are self-sustaining," Massa said. "Our current supplemental food production system is a step towards this future goal."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "LED lights used in plant growth experiments for deep space missions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911195853.htm>.
NASA. (2012, September 11). LED lights used in plant growth experiments for deep space missions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911195853.htm
NASA. "LED lights used in plant growth experiments for deep space missions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911195853.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Going Ape: Sierra Leone Chimpanzees Hail Ebola Retreat

Going Ape: Sierra Leone Chimpanzees Hail Ebola Retreat

AFP (Apr. 21, 2015) As money runs out at Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, around 85 chimps are facing homelessness. The centre closed when the Ebola epidemic was ravaging the country but now that closure is beginning to look permanent. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blue Bell Recalls All Products

Blue Bell Recalls All Products

AP (Apr. 21, 2015) Blue Bell Creameries voluntary recalled for all of its products after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, a potentially deadly bacteria. Blue Bell&apos;s President and CEO issued a video statement. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2015) Five years on, the possible environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill includes a sustained die-off of bottlenose dolphins, among others. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico started the biggest oil spill in US history. BP recently reported the Gulf is recovering well, but scientists paint a different picture. Duration: 02:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins