US soil microbes are testing farming in space
Tuesday – 20 Dhu al-Hijjah 1443 AH – 19 July 2022 AD Issue No. [
Soil and its microbes isolated from Prosser, Washington, destined for the International Space Station (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
Cairo: Hazem Badr
Researchers cut small samples from the soil of the city of Prosser in Washington County, to travel with some of its “inhabitants” into space, which actually happened a few days ago.
Soil and its population of bacteria traveled to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, July 15, where scientists will study what happens to bacteria in a microgravity environment to learn more about how microbial communities operate in soil in space, and this is information they need Scientists grow food either in space or on another celestial body.
The experiment, funded by NASA, is called “Space Microbiome Dynamics” and is being carried out by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The microbial community in the soil that headed to the International Space Station consisted of eight types of bacteria, which scientists isolated from a scientific field site at Prosser operated by Washington State University.
Scientists will study how microbes behave in space compared to how they behave on Earth, why some species thrive under certain conditions and struggle under others, who need partners to thrive, and who might be consumers. Will microbes in space work as they do on Earth? Answering these questions will help grow food in space.
“We still have a lot to learn about how microorganisms behave on Earth, and there are more questions that need to be addressed if we are to grow food in space,” said Janet Janson, lead scientist for the experiment, in a report published yesterday by the official website of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. For example on the moon or on a long-term mission to Mars, and from these questions we will know how microbes behave in microgravity, for example.”
Plants need beneficial microbes in the soil to help them grow. Microbes can provide nutrients and protect plants from drought, pathogens, and other stresses. Understanding how microbes interact while doing so is the first step to building microbial communities that can support the growth of plants in places Like the Moon, Mars, or the space station, Janet asserts.
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