USAFA cadets’ research on plant growth heading to space | Space

(U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo.) — Research efforts from three members of the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) Class of 2024 are heading to space this summer with the launch of Polaris Dawn.

According to USAFA, Polaris Dawn will carry experiments that will expand scientific knowledge of plant growth in space, with a follow-up experiment planned for August to the International Space Station.

The experiments, both within an Academy-designed chamber called the Space Optimized Plant Habitat In Array (SOPHIA), allow researchers to focus on growth responses in microgravity conditions. Protected within the SOPHIA will be the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, commonly known as Thale cress, a member of the mustard family.

USAFA said the study aims to deepen the understanding of plant physiology in different orbital environments, potentially enhancing crop production for long space missions.

“These experiments are a great example of the high-impact experiential learning that is a hallmark of the Academy’s curriculum,” said Brig. Gen. Linell Letendre, Dean of Faculty. “Faculty, staff,…


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