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Adv Space Res. 2003;31(1):221-7.

Plant growth during the Greenhouse II experiment on the Mir orbital station.

Author information

1
Department of Plants, Soils, & Biometeorology, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-4820, USA.
2
UT St U, Logan

Abstract

We carried out three experiments with Super Dwarf wheat in the Bulgarian/Russian growth chamber Svet (0.1 m2 growing area) on the Space Station Mir. This paper mostly describes the first of these NASA-supported trials, began on Aug. 13, 1995. Plants were sampled five times and harvested on Nov. 9 after 90 days. Equipment failures led to low irradiance (3, then 4 of 6 lamp sets failed), instances of high temperatures (ca. 37 degrees C), and sometimes excessive substrate moisture. Although plants grew for the 90 d, no wheat heads were produced. Considering the low light levels, plants were surprisingly green, but of course biomass production was low. Plants were highly disoriented (low light, mirror walls?). Fixed and dried samples and the root module were returned on the U.S. Shuttle Atlantis on Nov. 20, 1995. Samples of the substrate, a nutrient-charged zeolite called Balkanine, were taken from the root module, carefully examined for roots, weighed, dried, and reweighed. The Svet control unit and the light bank were shipped to Moscow. An experiment validation test (EVT) of plant growth and experimental procedures, carried out in Moscow, was highly successful. Equipment built in Utah to measure CO2, H2O vapor, irradiance, air and leaf (IR) temperature, O2, pressure, and substrate moisture worked well in the EVT and in space. After this manuscript was first prepared, plants were grown in Mir with a new light bank and controller for 123 d in late 1996 and 39 days in 1996/1997. Plants grew exceptionally well with higher biomass production than in any previous space experiment, but the ca. 280 wheat heads that were produced in 1996 contained no seeds. Ethylene in the cabin atmosphere was responsible.

PMID:
12580179
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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