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Catholic Regional College Caroline Springs students with their growth chamber at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria yesterday (MACS)

Students from two Melbourne Catholic schools are learning to propagate basil plants that could end up on the plates of NASA’s astronauts at the International Space Station. Source: ABC News.

For about the next 50 days, students from Catholic Regional College Caroline Springs and Mount Lilydale Mercy College will attempt to grow their first basil crop in a specially designed plant habitat, mimicking the growing conditions in space.

CRC Caroline Springs year 10 student Zalaika Farrugia said the program’s partnership with NASA initially caught her eye, prompting her to sign up for the extracurricular club.

“Exploring and researching different plants that could be sent out of this world definitely interests me, and the fact that we get to work alongside people dedicated to research is really exciting,” Zalaika said.

As the students’ basil crop grows, they’ll track its germination rate, edible mass, and light and humidity levels to determine if the herb will thrive in space.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria chief executive and director Tim Entwisle said while the students were starting with basil, Australian native plants could also be on the menu. 

“The idea is to find a few Australian plants that might work in space — and it could be warrigal greens or bush tomatoes — that provide extra nutrients or perhaps extra flavour and make it interesting to be in space,” Mr Entwisle said.

Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) Acting Executive Director Edward Simons said the program was a wonderful opportunity for the schools and an exciting partnership for MACS.

“The opportunity for students to tackle a challenge, situating science and mathematics in a real-world context like this, is a powerful driver for learning,” Dr Simons said.


Melbourne students aim to grow bush tucker for astronauts to eat at International Space Station (By Zilla Gordon, ABC News)

Melbourne Catholic schools helping NASA discover new foods to grow in space (MACS)