Taipei, The seeds of four plant species chosen by Taiwanese researchers will be heading into space in October as part of an international research project led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The project, titled “Space Seeds for Asian Future,” will send seeds from several countries to the International Space Station (ISS), to see how they react to conditions in space, according to Taiwan’s National Space Organization (NSPO).
After a few months aboard the ISS, the seeds will be sent back to their country of origin and planted to determine if the different radiation levels and gravity found in space affects the seeds in any way.
Taiwan is one of nine countries participating in the project, and the NSPO worked with National Chung Hsing University (NCHU) and the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute to select the seeds Taiwan will submit, the university said Monday.
One of the four plant species chosen was Phalaenopsis equestris, a type of orchid native to Taiwan.
The orchid was chosen because there are few records of its genetic mutations and how the mutations manifest in the plant, and sending its seeds into space could lead to more research in this area, said NCHU professor Yang Chin-ying (楊靜瑩).
Another plant chosen was the Chenopodium formosanum Koidz, a traditional crop that is grown by many indigenous tribes in Taiwan, NCHU said.
The remaining two are the bell pepper and common sunflower, NCHU said.
The seeds of the four plants were sent to Japan at the end of July, and they will be traveling to the United States before heading to space on a supply spacecraft, according to NCHU.
They are scheduled to return to Earth in February next year, NCHU said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel