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Lettuce In Space. Luke Rabinowitz, Colm Shalvey, and Zachary Visconti Co-Principal Investigators. Abstract

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lettuce in space

Lettuce In Space

Luke Rabinowitz, Colm Shalvey, and Zachary Visconti

Co-Principal Investigators



The purpose of the experiment is to see if lettuce will germinate in the International Space Station. After the experiment we will observe if microgravity will have a positive, negative, or neutral effect on growth. We will compare the sample from the ISS to our ground truth by observing germination from both tubes. If the lettuce germinates in microgravity astronauts can eat lettuce on long space flights. This will provide the astronauts with the opportunity to eat fresh vegetables while on extended space voyage.



We want to know if lettuce seeds will germinate in zero gravity.

Orbs going back and forth are very expensive. Also it may take a long time with all of NASA’S delays. If we know if they can grow vegetables in microgravity, than this cost will be eliminated.


Background Research

Plant growth in space has been tried with corn. The corn did not respond well to microgravity. It has also been tried with soybeans. The soybeans thrived very well in microgravity. We want to try plant growth with lettuce. In space, plant roots grow in random directions, however, on Earth, the roots of plants grow down.



One day during the last 2 weeks aboard the station. The astronauts will unlatch the clamps holding back the section with the seeds and the section with water, and then shake for 1 minute. This will begin germination.

Two days before departure, the astronauts will unlatch a second clamp, releasing rubbing alcohol into the experiment. This will keep the plants from decaying on the trip down.


Issues We Had

One issue we had was trying to get seed germination in just water. Due to very low germination rates we examined how much air was left in the tube after sealing. It was determined that the type of seed might be the cause for the low germination rates. Varying the seed types appeared to improve germination rates.


Issues We Had

Ten tubes of lettuce seeds were assessed and growth was measured bi-weekly. The types of seeds tested include: Romaine lettuce seeds, Grand Rapids Lettuce, Blackseed Simpson, Prizehead Early Lettuce, and Red Lettuce seeds.

Red Lettuce seeds offered consistent germination in three tests.

In conclusion, we used Red

Lettuce for our experiment.


What Comes Next

After the experiment flies we will get the tube back and analyze the data. We will then analyze the data from the ground truth and the ISS tube. We will report our data.


This experiment would not be possible without the support of the following organizations:

South Orangetown Central School District

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), SSEP National PartnerNational Center for Earth and Space Science EducationKeyBankGreater Hudson BankGreenman – Pedersen, Inc.