News Release

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Miami University
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NEW SEEDS TO SPROUT ON SHUTTLE

05/02/1997

OXFORD, Ohio -- With the May 15 launch of the space shuttle

Atlantis goes a second round of seeds sent by John Kiss, Miami University

assistant professor of botany.

A crew of international astronauts will water the seeds (of a common

weed), expose them to light and artificial gravity, record their growth and

chemically preserve the seedlings so Kiss and his research crew can analyze

them here at Miami.

The purpose of Kiss' research, funded with a three-year $230,000 NASA

grant, is to help answer questions about supporting human time in space: If we

want to use plants as a food source, how will microgravity affect their growth?

How will it affect their ability to produce oxygen? What will plants look like

in space?

The seed sample is much larger than his January test on the effect of

near-zero gravity on plant growth--960 seeds instead of 150. But that first

experiment aboard Atlantis showed most of the procedure for growing

Arabidopsis seedlings was on target.

This experiment, one of 10 on board, will have only slight alterations:

longer time at artificial gravity and a high-definition video record of the

seeds' growth.

Kiss has spent several years doing ground-based research on the effects of

gravity on plant growth, some of it with the assistance of graduate and

undergraduate students.

Before and during the flight, he'll be in a specially prepared lab at

Kennedy Space Center and will bring the seedlings back to Oxford hours after

touchdown.

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