5 Innovative Greenhouses

Plants in Space

Although Antarctica remains the most hostile environment on Earth, it's not the most inhospitable place we have established a greenhouse. Lada (named after the Russian goddess of spring) is a greenhouse that has been growing plants on the International Space Station since 2002.

The Lada greenhouse consists of three modules (one for control and two for vegetation) and was developed jointly by U.S. and Russian scientists. Although Lada uses controlled light and moisture, everything else -- air, gravity, humidity and temperature -- is dictated by the environment on the space station [source: NASA]. This allows scientists to see how plants cope in a radically different setting. It also enables them to monitor the effect of potential contaminants, such as radiation, that the astronauts, the spacecraft and, thus, the plants, are exposed to in space. By understanding how plants acclimate to the rigors of space travel, we can begin preparing for a future when astronauts can grow their own food in space and on other planets.

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