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Tomatosphere: Sowing the seeds of discovery through student science

Is it possible to grow fruits and vegetables in space despite the challenges of weightlessness and radiation? What types of seeds could germinate in space's hostile conditions? Since , over three million students across Canada and the United States have worked to answer those questions by taking part in the Tomatosphere program. This educational project's hands-on approach to learning gives students a real taste for science.

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet explains the Tomatosphere project. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency [CSA], NASA, ESA, Let's Talk Science)

Space agencies around the world are working to send humans to Mars. Since bringing enough food for a mission lasting two to three years would be too expensive and impractical, astronauts will have to grow their own healthy food while in space.

In the closed environment of a spacecraft, plants grown on board can make a huge contribution to life-support systems. Plants can provide food, produce oxygen, and recycle carbon dioxide and some organic waste.

How to participate

  1. The teacher orders a seed kit.

    Two batches of seeds will be sent:

    1. A batch that has been exposed to the space or space-like environment
    2. A batch of control seeds, for comparison
  2. The students grow all of the seeds in the classroom "blind," without knowing which are space seeds.
  3. They measure and record information about the tomato plants including germination rates and growth patterns.
  4. They submit the results online so that they are available to scientists who study horticulture and environmental biology.
  5. The students bring the tomatoes home and make a salsa that's out of this world!

Order your seeds for free

Tomatosphere TM

Grade 6 students from Byron Northview Public School in London, Ontario, plant Tomatosphere seeds with Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen and Bonnie Schmidt, President and Founder of Let's Talk Science. (Credit: CSA)

Teaching students to think like scientists

By participating, students can:

Why tomatoes? Because they are easy to grow, versatile, nutritious and delicious. In , over 272 million kilograms of tomatoes were grown in Canadian greenhouses.

David Saint-Jacques participates in the Tomatosphere educational project

CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques holds a bag of thousands of tomato seeds. These space seeds will be distributed to classes in Canada and the United States, in collaboration with Let’s Talk Science. (Credit: CSA/NASA)


The Tomatosphere project is a collaboration between:

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