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A healthy mind and body: the key to thriving in space and on Earth

David Saint-Jacques checks plants being grown for a space botany experiment taking place inside the International Space Station. The study focuses on the impact of light quality and fertilizer on leafy crops, food safety, nutritional value, and the overall health benefits of having plants and fresh food in space. (Credit: NASA)

About the initiative

This initiative will involve hands-on activities about growing nourishing plants in space and on Earth (sprouts, vegetables, healthy edible plants, etc.). It will be designed with Inuit communities, connect to cultural knowledge and create opportunities for youth in grades 1 to 9 residing in Nunavut to learn about STEM and current and ancestral Inuit knowledge and ways of knowing.

Feeding astronauts fresh, nutritious food is key to keeping both their bodies and minds healthy. Food is also a way to help astronauts feel connected to home and to their own culture. Along with keeping bodies fueled with the nutrients and energy they need, food also provides positive psychological impacts on astronaut well-being in a number of ways. Consuming familiar food can bring comfort, as can the opportunity to share with other astronauts as part of communal meal times, especially during holiday celebrations. Astronauts have also remarked on the benefits of having living plants on station.

Currently on the International Space Station, astronauts receive shipments of fresh food an average of once every couple of months. As humans venture to the Moon and farther into space, astronauts will need to become more autonomous as shipments for food and supplies will be less frequent or impossible. Space travelers will need to grow their own food in space. What they produce will depend on a number of factors, like how much care and water plants need, what nutrients they will supply and how long they take to grow. They also need to withstand the space environment and require little processing before being enjoyed.

Who can participate

Young Inuit in grades 1 through 9 residing in Nunavut, their educators and communities.

How to participate

More details will be provided in fall .

For educators

Educators will be provided with support through webinars, tutorial videos, educator kits or other means. Curriculum alignment will also be provided. More details to come.

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