During a research mission that concluded with the return of Space Shuttle Atlantis Friday, soybean seeds planted and nurtured by DuPont scientists germinated, developed into plants, flowered, and produced new seedpods in space. The 97-day growth research initiative is the first-ever to complete a major crop growth cycle in space from planting seeds to growing new seeds. The research mission aboard the International Space Station demonstrates that space crop production can be accomplished, potentially supporting long-term human presence in space. Through video monitoring and data sent from the International Space Station, DuPont scientists also examined the effects of zero-gravity and other elements in space regarding plant growth.
The soybeans returned to Earth Friday afternoon aboard the Atlantis. In June, DuPont subsidiary, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., with the Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics (WCSAR) -- a NASA Commercial Space Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison -- launched the soybean seed experiment on Space Shuttle Endeavour. As part of the research mission, Pioneer-brand soybean seeds grew in a specialized tray within a growth chamber developed by WCSAR. Pioneer scientists monitored the soybeans' growth daily and provided nutrient adjustments to facilitate growth.
With the soybeans and seeds now on Earth, Pioneer and WCSAR will analyze the harvested seeds to determine if they have improved oil, protein, carbohydrates or secondary metabolites that could benefit farmers and consumers. Seeds exhibiting unique and desirable qualities will be planted by Pioneer scientists to determine if the traits can be inherited in future generations. Pioneer will identify the gene
Contact: Anthony Farina