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Cotton in space? ISS experiments to optimize fiber growth on Earth

Space is an excellent place to test scientific theories and perform a wide range of experiments. We have already sent human seeds and Budweiser barley kernels to the International Space Station (ISS), and now cotton is being put into orbit next fly …

To optimize cotton production on Earth, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the organization that manages the US National Lab under the NASA leadership, has three highly developed Send cotton projects to the space station.

These experiments, selected through a contest called the Cotton Sustainability Challenge, will focus primarily on improving cotton production without consuming as much water as is currently needed. As part of the effort, each of the three projects will gain access to the US National Laboratory and receive hardware implementation support to proceed with the main mission.

In addition, the team of researchers and innovators behind all three projects In addition, Target Corporation, sponsor of the mission, receives one million dollars in funding.

"Awareness of the sustainability of cotton is a great opportunity to showcase the unique research aspects of the International Space Station" CASIS Director of Commercial Innovation "and strategic partnerships Cynthia Bouthot said in a statement," We look forward to working with Target and our selected researchers preparing to send innovative research into our orbiting lab. "   GettyImages-119977445 Space experiments with cotton could improve fiber agriculture on Earth – a plant harvested during the past year was missed growing on the edge of a barren cotton field on July 27, 2011 near Hermleigh, Texas. Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images

One of the selected projects, the by a Californian nonprofit company called Upstream aims to use a sophisticated machine learning algorithm. The program will use ISS 'remote sensing images to automatically monitor and assess cotton farming in real time and to forward that data to increase the efficiency of water use.

The next project will use genome sequencing techniques to gain new knowledge about cotton, plant growth and regeneration. The idea is to observe three different cotton cultures that grow in the absence of gravity and analyze their gene expression and other properties to find a way to grow plants that require less water or adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Plant growth and regeneration, the value of their roots can not be ignored. As a result, the last project, which originates from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will revolve around the expression of an AVP-1 gene. Scientists believe that overexpression of this gene in cotton plants results in an improved root system and allows plants to perform better and yield, even when exposed to drought-like conditions.

Now that root growth is directly related to gravity, this project will use the environment of ISS to study the behavior of this gene and all the other factors that could enhance plant capability, including stressors such as water shortage and high salinity deal with it.

Although there is no word about it, projects are starting towards the Cosmos, the efforts could certainly help to save water and other natural resources needed for cotton production, but are declining. As reported by Space.com, producing cotton for a single T-shirt alone requires up to 2,700 liters of water.

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