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Growing Food in Space

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How do you grow food in space? Join Dr Brad Tucker and a panel of experts as they discuss the practical aspects and challenges of living (and eating) in space. The panel will highlight the research being done on improving nutrition for astronauts and future space travellers, and how this research relates to everyday life here on Earth.

Speaker biographies can be found below. This event is part of Served With a Side of Science: A Canberra Food Festival and is presented by Mount Stromlo Observatory and ACT National Science Week with support from the ANU Institute for Space.

Ralph Fritsche is the Space Crop Production Project Manager at NASA. He is leading the effort to develop sustainable and reliable fresh food systems in support of long duration space missions beyond low Earth orbit. Ralph began his career with NASA in 1989 and has supported the US Manned Space Program in various engineering and operational roles.

Dr Caitlin Byrt is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and an ANU Institute for Space Mission Specialist based in the Research School of Biology. Caitlin’s lab tests and engineers membrane transport proteins called aquaporins that have key roles in helping cells adjust to changes in their environment. Aquaporins are used inside filters to turn bodily waste into drinking water in space, and they are a key target for adapting plants and animals to low gravity environments.

Julio Hernandez - PhD Candidate at the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University

Dr Jacob Humpal is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Southern Queensland's Centre for Agricultural Engineering. Jacob is part of a research team developing automated plant monitoring systems to grow plants in space, in a project funded by the Australian Space Agency. His research experience includes machine automation and machine vision systems for detecting plant stress in laboratory and field environments.