Astrobotany: Can Plants Grow Bigger in Outer Space?

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In summary: Bolting is a response to sudden changes in environmental conditions, such as a sudden increase in light intensity or temperature.It means the plant has been damaged and will not produce fruit or flowers.There are a few varieties of plants that bolt, such as corn, potatoes, and tomatoes.Bolting can also happen when a plant is moved from one location to another.TL;DR Summary: Can plants in outer space grow bigger because of increased solar irradiance?Solar irradiance at Earth's atmosphere is 1361 Watts / meter squared, compared to approximately 1000 Watts / meter squared on the Earth's surface (depending on where you are).The article mentions that plants grown in
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dansmith170
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TL;DR Summary
Can plants in outer space grow bigger because of increased solar irradiance?
According to Wikipedia Solar Irradiance at Earth's atmosphere is 1361 Watts / meter squared, compared to approximately 1000 Watts / meter squared on the Earth's surface (depending on where you are). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_irradiance).

My question is, does more sunlight mean larger plants? In other words, if I put a plant in orbit, will it grow bigger than it would on Earth. From what I read, less gravity means the plant grows less support structures. My question is, more specifically, will the fruit of the plant grow larger with more sunlight in an outer space environment?

Let's assume that the plant has adequate water, CO2, soil nutrients, and that we can somehow regulate the temperature to an ideal temperature for the plant.

Thanks.
 
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Which plants?
Some like low light levels.
Components of outer space light (like UV) may be injurious to some are all plants.
You might try looking through the NASA website. They have a lot of obscure space associated info there.

If you are interested in just light levels, some horticulturalist has probably looked at higher levels of illumination.
 
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dansmith170 said:
TL;DR Summary: Can plants in outer space grow bigger because of increased solar irradiance?

My question is, does more sunlight mean larger plants?
I think the first few experiments on this question did not end well for the plants...

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https://www.fastcompany.com/3057288...m-near-las-vegas-provides-power-even-at-night
 
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BillTre said:
Which plants?
Some like low light levels.
Components of outer space light (like UV) may be injurious to some are all plants.
You might try looking through the NASA website. They have a lot of obscure space associated info there.

If you are interested in just light levels, some horticulturalist has probably looked at higher levels of illumination.
Thanks Bill, I'll see what I can find on NASA's website. I did try to research already, but without many results. I'll take another look. If anyone finds any papers on this topic, please post.
 
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dansmith170 said:
My question is, does more sunlight mean larger plants?
I can't say much about the gravity part, but this spring I've ruined a batch of seedlings with a slightly stronger growth light.
It was 'cold' light (LED), so they were not burnt. It was just the amount of light.

Ps.: giving it a bit more thought... Decent part of that extra intensity is pretty dangerous (short wavelength: UV and worse) radiation. Sunlight 'outside' is a big sterilizer, and once you got rid of all the nasty parts, you will be back around the 1000 W/m2 range.
Also, you'll have lot of problem with the length of daily irradiation what's used as a calendar for many plants. Same for the colour of light...

So, I would give the question a solid 'no', unless some serious genetic engineering got involved, like sunscreen-producing and such o0)

Ps of Ps: after giving even more thoughts to this interesting problem, if it's me I would not even try to grow anything 'out there' in direct sunlight. It would be all about PV panels outside and growth lights inside :doh:
 
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dansmith170 said:
TL;DR Summary: Can plants in outer space grow bigger because of increased solar irradiance?

Let's assume that the plant has adequate water, CO2, soil nutrients, and that we can somehow regulate the temperature to an ideal temperature for the plant.
Basic assumption I guess.
But how would one know the 'ideal' water, CO2, nutrients, temperature that would be necessary for the plant with added light.

Plants are finicky.
Too much water and they could become susceptible to fungal diseases.
Too dry and they can become stunted and seed early.
Of course, exceptions apply - ie water lilies grow in water for example.

Here is an interesting thought - too much sunlight and the plant becomes too hot.
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ed...-bolting-what-it-means-when-a-plant-bolts.htm
 
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BillTre said:
Which plants?
Rightly so.
 

Related to Astrobotany: Can Plants Grow Bigger in Outer Space?

Can plants actually grow in outer space?

Yes, plants can grow in outer space. Experiments conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) have shown that plants can complete their life cycle in microgravity, from seed germination to flowering and seed production. However, the growth patterns and physiology of the plants can be affected by the unique conditions of space, such as microgravity and increased radiation.

Do plants grow bigger in outer space compared to Earth?

Studies have shown mixed results regarding plant growth in space. Some experiments have observed that certain plants may grow taller due to the lack of gravity, leading to less structural support needed for the plant to stand upright. However, other factors such as limited space, light, and nutrients can affect overall growth. In some cases, plants may not necessarily grow bigger but might exhibit different growth patterns and morphologies.

What challenges do plants face when growing in outer space?

Plants in outer space face several challenges, including microgravity, which affects the way they orient themselves and transport water and nutrients. Additionally, increased levels of cosmic radiation can damage plant cells and DNA. The controlled environment of space habitats also means that factors like light, temperature, and humidity must be carefully managed to support plant growth.

How do scientists study plant growth in space?

Scientists study plant growth in space through a combination of space missions, experiments on the ISS, and ground-based simulations. They use specialized growth chambers equipped with controlled lighting, temperature, and nutrient delivery systems. Data from these experiments are collected and analyzed to understand how space conditions affect plant biology and to develop strategies for growing crops in space.

Can plants grown in space be used for food and oxygen production?

Yes, plants grown in space have the potential to be used for food and oxygen production, which are critical for long-term space missions and the establishment of extraterrestrial colonies. Plants can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis and provide fresh food for astronauts. Successful cultivation of plants in space could significantly enhance the sustainability of space exploration.

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