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Call for Participation

space station, farming in space logo

Join One of the First International Space Station Space Biology Investigations!

The ISS Challenge™ project invites K-12 teachers and students to participate in a cross-school, International Space Station (ISS) plant science investigation. The investigation, called Farming in Space, is an adapted version of the Biomass Production System 24-Day Test scheduled to be launched in January of 2002.

The Biomass Production investigation has two primary objectives:

(1) Test the Biomass Production System (BPS), a plant growth chamber designed to grow plants aboard the International Space Station.

(2) Complete the Photosynthesis Experiment System Testing and Operations (PESTO) experiment to determine whether projected water and carbon dioxide resource requirements for plant photosynthesis are accurate.

Students and teachers participating in the Farming in Space investigation will observe, share information, and develop their own research questions for related experiments. Students and teachers are encouraged to share their questions and results with others by participating in the on-line chats, emailing the ISS Challenge team, and by publishing their findings on their school Web site. NASA researchers and International Space Station payload specialists will be available to answer questions and share the results of their ISS and ground-based control experiments.

Here is a series of images of the wheat plants taken at three different stages of growth from within the BPS chamber. These images are from preliminary tests of the Farming in Space Experiment and were taken by the NASA plant physiology researcher, Dr. Gary Stutte, principle investigator for the ISS experiment.


photos of plants growing


Students will have access to images of the wheat plants grown aboard the ISS that will be taken during the 24-day testing. These images will give students an opportunity to find out how to conduct scientific measurements from screen captures and applying techniques required for remote "telescience" collaborations.

Participating students may investigate the following questions

When do developmental changes, such as plant heights, formation of flowers, and development of seedpods, occur?

How do various conditions influence outcomes?

How many seeds does each plant produce?

What are the wet and dry masses of the plants?

What are the harvest indices of the plants?

How much starch do the plants produce?

Teachers and students will be invited and encouraged to share ideas, findings, and submit additional experiments and explorations. Throughout the activity, students can e-mail the ISS Challenge team (issteam@cet.edu) to ask questions and receive guidance.

Investigations can be completed within 21 to 100 days depending upon the questions you choose to research.

Multiple Chats will be offered via NASA Quest Starting Jan. 8, 2001

This Farming in Space Event will begin with an opening chat featuring experts involved in NASA research and ISS experiments on Jan. 8, 2001 from Noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Time!

    Interactive Participation
    To chat, in the Forum and participate in theWebchat, click on the "join us" picture or link below.. You will go directly to the chat room. Chat rooms open 5 minutes before the event. Our experts will do their best to answer as many questions as they can. The most thoughtful and prepared questions will be chosen first.

    Chat directions


January 8th Chat - Farming in Space Details
Chat Archive


January 30th Chat - Farming in Space Data Analysis

Chat Archive


Video Clips -Questions and Answers

Featured Experts for the first two chats on January 8th and January 30th:

1. Gary Stutte, Principal Investigator for the International Space Station Wheat experiment ground tests and ISS mission (PESTO Experiment) scheduled for Jan. 2002. Dr. Stutte works for Dynamac at Kennedy Space Center.

2. Robert Morrow, Principal Investigator for the International Space Station AstroPlant experiment ground tests and ISS mission (Technology Validation Test) scheduled for Jan. 2002. Dr. Morrow works for Orbitec in Madison, WI. Orbitec designs equipment for NASA space missions.

3. Thomas Dreschel, Education Outreach Coordinator for Life Sciences at Kennedy Space Center.


Featured Experts for the chat on February 27, 2001

  1. Keith E. Henderson,Advanced Life Support Scientist.
  2. Russ E. Fortson, Lockheed Martin Project Manager for BIO-Plex.


February 27th Chat - BIO-Plex

Chat Archive


April 18th Chat Farming in Space

Classroom of the Future and NASA Ground Test Data Exchanges Students and teachers will share their data and questions with NASA researchers:

Gary Stutte (Dynamac, Kennedy Space Center, FL) Gary Stutte is the Jan. 2002 ISS Expedition 4 Principal Investigator for the Photosynthesis Experiment Systems and Operations Test (PESTO) Experiment. He will be observing wheat growth data.

Robert Morrow, ORBITEC, Madison, WI. Robert Morrow is the Jan. 2002 ISS Expedition 4 Principal Investigator for the Biomass Production System (BPS) Validation Test. He will be observing AstroPlant growth data while testing the flight hardware.

Thomas Dreschel, Dynamac, KSC, FL. Thomas Dreschel is the NASA Education Outreach Coordinator for Life Sciences at Kennedy Space Center.

Chat Archive


Tuesday, May 8th - Farming in Space Chat - BioBLAST Plant Production Simulator

This chat will discuss the Plant Production Simulator from the award-winning BioBLAST CD-ROM, developed by NASA Classroom of the Future. You can download the Plant Production simulator at the Web site below. http://www.cotf.edu/iss/activities/farminspace.asp. This simulator was designed to model the growth of NASA Advanced Life-Support (ALS) crops under a variety of conditions. It supplements the Farming in Space activity, allowing students to simulate wheat and other crop growth under conditions that would be difficult to reproduce in their labs. The simulation-based activity "Which Plants Are Most Productive?" shows students how to use the simulator to compare the effectiveness of each crop in meeting astronaut food and oxygen requirements. Download the Plant Production Simulator, try it out, and share your comments and questions during the chat.

Gary Stutte (Dynamac, Kennedy Space Center, FL) is the January 2002 ISS Expedition 4 Principal Investigator for the Photosynthesis Experiment Systems and Operations Test (PESTO) Experiment. He is currently researching wheat growth at KSC.

James E. Coffield, Ph.D. is an analytical chemist who assisted in designing the the BioBLAST Plant Production Simulator. He is a curriculum writer and programmer with the Classroom of the Future.


Chat Archive

LIVE Lab Cam Coverage Begins January 9th, 2001

LIVE Lab Cam coverage of the experiment start-up will begin on Tuesday morning, Jan. 9th, on the International Space Station Challenge Web site http://www.cotf.edu/iss/activities/farminspace.asp

Following the experiment startup, we will position the Lab Cam on the plants growing in the NASA Classroom of the Future Experimentation Laboratory at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Data Updates And Exchanges

Throughout the experiment, data updates and exchanges will be posted at the International Space Station Challenge Web site: http://www.cotf.edu/iss/activities/farminspace.asp.

Contact the ISS Team

Feel free to e-mail questions in advance of either NASA Quest Chat to issteam@cet.edu


The ISS TEAM at the NASA Classroom of the Future consists of:

Dr. Laurie Ruberg, International Space Station Challenge Project Manager

Dr. Meri Cummings, Science Resource Teacher and Curriculum Writer

Dr. James Coffield, Curriculum Writer

Mr. John Hornyak, Curriculum Writer

Mr. Donald Watson, Video Support Services Manager

Ms. Kirsten Ruben, Graphics Designer

Download the Farming in Space Activity

Visit the International Space Station Challenge Web site now to download the PDF version of the Farming in Space activity (http://cotf.edu/iss/activities/farminspace.asp)!

Farming in Space 1998 Wisconsin Fast Plants Program, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, Dept. of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin - Madison (http://www.fastplants.org).

Female Scientist graphic courtesy arttoday.com


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