Gardening, dreams and new records in space: a September of science

Tue, 12 Oct 2021 05:20:00 GMT
ESA Human Spaceflight

As International Space Station crew members prepared for an action-packed October, they broke...

As International Space Station crew members prepared for an action-packed October, they broke records, tested virtual reality headsets and even grew plants in microgravity.

Read on for science highlights from a stellar September in space.

There are plants aplenty on the International Space Station, with several investigations looking into different aspects of plant behaviour in microgravity.

A NASA experiment, known as Plant Habitat-04, has astronauts tending to New Mexico Hatch Green Chili peppers - a species that takes a long time to germinate and bear fruit.

APEX-08 focuses on cress and the mechanisms plants use to modulate the stress of microgravity, while a new European investigation, Eklosion, studies the psychological benefits of gardening and observing nature off our Earth.

Throughout September, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet took photos and documented attempts to grow the plant in its capsule as others on Earth grew and shared images of their own Marigolds on Twitter using hashtag #EklosionISS. Another CNES-led experiment Dreams uses a special headband to evaluate the sleep quality of astronauts in orbit.

Immersive Exercise aims to develop a virtual environment for crew members using virtual reality to help with motivation as they exercise in space.

Results will improve control interfaces on the Space Station and future spacecraft for lunar and martian missions.

For more on activities during Thomas's Alpha mission and science in space, visit the Alpha webpage.

Stay tuned throughout October for exciting events including Thomas's time as International Space Station commander and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer's first journey to space.

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