QinetiQ North Ameica has announced the results of its first Symbiotic Nodulation in a Reduced Gravity Environment experiment. The one-week analysis found that both plants and their beneficial bacteria thrived in microgravity in their homes on the shuttle, the result of an experiment to study the effects of microgravity on host plant and bacteria cells.
The SyNRGE experiment took place on the final mission of the space shuttle program and is part of a NASA grant to investigate the role of microgravity on biological nitrogen fixation. QinetiQ North America hopes the study will reduce re-supply costs for astronaut provisions, allowing for longer space missions and freeing up payload capacity on future missions. The results could also allow scientists to find new ways to successfully grow food in areas of the planet that currently cannot support plant life.
“The development of a biological regenerative system for sustainable life support opens up the universe to us,” said Dr. Gary Stutte, QinetiQ North America. “With the ability to create a biological regenerative system for sustainable life support for long duration space missions, a manned mission to Mars is just the beginning.”
QinetiQ North America’s team of scientists developed the SyNRGE experiment as part of the company’s work on its Engineering Services Contract with NASA.