Intrinsyx Technologies Corporation is proud of the work Dr. John Freeman, Science Test Lead and Plant Scientist has recently completed while on a team of scientists and engineers supporting Seedling Growth 1. This team operates under the flight systems implementation branch (code SCF) in NASA’s Space Biosciences Division. The Seedling Growth flight experiments utilize the European Modular Cultivation System in conjunction with Experiment Unique Equipment which is flight hardware developed by NASA Ames Research Center. This experiment is now onboard the International Space Station and the run operations are scheduled for starting near the end of March. Four SG experiments are scheduled to be completed over the next few years supported by NASA-ARC in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). The major project goals are to determine how gravity and light influence plant growth and to obtain a better understanding of the cellular signaling mechanisms involved in plant tropisms.
Plants rely on sophisticated mechanisms to interpret incoming environmental signals so they can adjust their growth accordingly. NASA Primary Investigators are interested in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of gravitropism and phototropism (directed growth in response to gravity and light, respectively). The gravitropism projects have studied how statoliths (root granules that function in perception of gravity) interact with the cytoskeleton for gravitropic signal transduction. In terms of phototropism, NASA Primary Investigators have been examining the role of the photosensitive pigment phytochrome in the regulation of directing growth of both roots and stems. NASA has supported spaceflight experiments on the International Space Station which use microgravity as a tool to understand the mechanisms of plant growth responses to light and gravity. Currently, for Seedling Growth 1, Dr. Freeman helped to prepare and sterilize seeds that were placed inside of mini seed cassette containers that he also helped to sterilize and assemble during the flight build of this new experiment. Thanks to the successful launch of Space X-2, this experiment is now onboard the International Space Station. The overarching long term goal of these projects is to understand how plants integrate sensory inputs from their multiple light and gravity perception systems in order to help overcome the many challenges currently associated with growing food crops in spaceships, in future human colonies on the moon or mars.
Intrinsyx has supported Ames’ Space Biosciences Division since 2000 and is currently providing science and engineering support to all ISS biological experiments.