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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Reduced gravity environment
Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 42, Issue 1
QinetiQ’s North America business announced the results of its first Symbiotic Nodulation in a Reduced Gravity Environment (SyNRGE) experiment, which studied the effects of microgravity on host plant and bacteria cells. After a one-week analysis, the results of this experiment showed both the plants and their beneficial bacteria thrived in microgravity in their Biological Research In a Canister (BRIC) homes on the shuttle.
The SyNRGE experiment, which took place on the final mission of the space shuttle program, is part of a NASA grant to investigate the role of microgravity on biological nitrogen fixation. This study of plants and bacteria and how they grow and interact in a microgravity environment helps to shed light on the creation of a sustainable living environment for humans in space. Plants are critical not only as a sustainable food source but they can also be used for atmospheric regeneration and water purification. Like humans, plants are intimately associated with bacteria in their environment. SyNRGE’s findings could dramatically reduce re-supply costs for astronaut provisions, make longer space missions possible and free up valuable payload capacity on future missions.