For humans to travel to the Moon and Mars, they’ll need a companion—a lowly weed. Just as Matt Damon survives on Mars in The Martian because he cultivates plants in the Red Planet’s hostile conditions, astronauts will need to understand how to grow plants in extreme climates. Anna-Lisa Paul and Robert J. Ferl, from the University of Florida, Gainesville Space Plants Lab, put weeds in unique situations—like the International Space Station—to study their behavior on a molecular level. Their research could pave the way for growing plants in extreme climates on Earth, on the moon, during long-term space travel, and even on Mars.
Produced by Emily V. Driscoll
Filmed by Gabe Cox
Music by Audio Network
Additional Stills and Video by NASA/JPL-Caltech, UF Space Plants Lab
Thanks to Jordan Callahan, Kay Howell, Stephen Orlando
Research supported by Space Life and Physical Sciences Division of NASA