Growing Beyond Earth – A NASA Citizen Science Project

Growing Beyond Earth® is a citizen science project operated in partnership with NASA, designed to advance NASA research on growing plants in space. Similar to how plants are grown in the Veggie™️ on the International Space Station, participating students will receive all materials necessary in order to conduct experimental trials, collect data on different crop types and growing techniques, and report these data in a dedicated online portal. The compiled data are accessed by NASA scientists, and plants and methods that succeed in Growing Beyond Earth projects are then tested at Kennedy Space Center. This program provides a steady stream of valuable data to NASA scientists who are developing technologies for growing food crops for long-duration missions into deep space.

Growing Beyond Earth will be part of an STEM Space camp this fall at Hutchings Museum Institute. Sign up to be notified about enrollment!

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About the Project

Since the program began in 2015, students have tested approximately 200 plant types in numerous locations across the nation. The different classroom locations and citizen scientists involved ensure variability in testing conditions, and if plant varieties do well in many locations, they are likely robust and resilient enough to grow in space. Two of this program’s crop varieties have now been successfully grown in Veggie on the International Space Station, and eaten by the astronauts. This NASA Citizen Science Program is yielding a bountiful harvest for NASA Science!

GBE Students with Chamber

Project Timeline

Materials will arrive in early October, and participants will conduct research on 6 herb plants contained in a specially-designed growth chamber for a first trial of 10 weeks. Participants will submit a weekly report to the online GBE research portal, and will submit a research proposal in week 10. If the research proposal is approved, a second trial of 10 weeks will begin in January to conduct the research. Participants will then present at the Student Research Symposium in April 2023.

Growing Beyond Earth is designed in partnership with NASA’s Exploration Research, Technology Program researchers at Kennedy Space Center, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to directly support NASA research on growing plants in space.