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International Space Station : Expedition Crews | EVA | Timelines | Science
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STS-104 Mission Specialist Michael Gernhardt performs a Station spacewalk

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Please go to the Space Station page on the NASA Web for continuing international space station coverage.

IMAGE: Plant grows aboard ISS.
The Expedition 6 crew grew this plant in a greenhouse in the Zvezda Service Module.

More plant growth images
ISS Science Looks to Mars
Can humans live on Mars? Is it safe? The Vision for Space Exploration opens the door for NASA to find out. Researchers on Earth are using several experiments aboard the international space station to study health and safety issues.

Space travelers living on Mars for extended periods will need to grow plants, which provide food and generate oxygen. But the decreased gravity and low atmospheric pressure environment will stress the plants and make them hard to grow.

Greenhouses in the Station's Destiny Laboratory and in the Zvezda Service Module grow plants in a controlled environment. Station crews tend the plants, photograph them and harvest samples for return to Earth. Researchers can use the resulting data to develop new techniques for successfully growing plants in space.

NASA is also concerned about health hazards posed by space radiation. A spacecraft bound for Mars will be exposed to substantial amounts of radiation, and it will have to protect the humans inside from exposure.

On the station, sensors inside the crew areas monitor radiation levels. NASA scientists, who have maintained radiation data since the beginning of human space flight, continue to learn about the dangers it poses. Researchers use the station to test materials that could be used for Mars-bound spacecraft.

Will it ever be safe for humans to live on Mars? Researchers are learning more every day, thanks to the results of ISS experiments.

Curator: JSC PAO Web Team | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 10/24/2012
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