TIC-TOC: Targeting Improved Cotton Through Orbital Cultivation

We are very excited to announce that we have been selected as part of the International Space Station (ISS) Cotton Sustainability Challenge organized by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) with funding from the Target Corporation.

Cotton is a major agricultural commodity around the world, with in excess of 25 million tons being produced annually and employing many millions of people in its cultivation, processing and distribution. Yet cotton production has significant environmental impacts related to factors such as high water consumption and often intensive agrochemical applications. The ISS Cotton Sustainability Challenge provides us with a remarkable opportunity to use the spaceflight environment to help understand cotton plant growth and development with the aim of spurring development of more stress resistant, water efficient and environmentally friendly cotton. We will be using the unique microgravity environment of the ISS National Laboratory to help understand how gravity interacts with the cotton root system to optimize how the plant mines the soil for mineral resources and determines its ability to scavenge for water.

We are at the very beginning of this journey, so stay tuned for updates as flight preparations progress. We also have to say a huge thank you to the Target Corporation, CASIS and the myriad support staff who will make this flight opportunity a reality.

“Let’s grow cotton in space!” Artwork by Kai Rasmussen, Gilroy Lab undergraduate researcher and curator of astrobotany.com.

Categories: Plants in Microgravity | Leave a comment

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