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Thanksgiving in space may one day come with all the trimmings
Date:11/21/2011

nstance, takes up little space in a farm field.

In space, however, that third dimension - height - is important because plants may need to be stacked to use all available space. Using a cone or cylinder is what might make sweet potato a viable space crop. Since the area inside the cages is empty, astronauts could put other plants inside and keep them alive with LED lighting.

The sweet potato plants also weren't particular about lighting or temperature. Mitchell and Massa grew sweet potatoes in greenhouses during different seasons and saw no difference in yield.

"Sweet potato doesn't seem to care what season it is or what conditions it's in," Mitchell said.

Massa said that's important because many different types of crops may have to be grown in the same rooms in space. Picky plants won't fare well with other picky plants having temperature or lighting requirements much different from their own.

"We call it a generalized-growth environment," Massa said. "We're finding the optimum, not the maximum."

Mitchell and Massa said they'd next like to study LED lighting's effect on sweet potato and other crops. NASA funded their research.


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Contact: Brian Wallheimer
bwallhei@purdue.edu
765-496-2050
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2

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