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NASA scientist to speak in Palmerston North

Manawatu Sections of
NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE
& THE NEW ZEALAND SOCIETY FOR HORTICULTURAL SCIENCE INC.
NZIAS National Secretariat, PO Box 121063 Henderson, Waitakere City

Media release. For immediate release

Tuesday, 30 May 2000

Contact: Dr Paul Austin HortResearch, Palmerston North Tel. 06-356-8080 ext 7774

NASA scientist to speak in Palmerston North

"As the space craft begins its long journey to Mars, the astronauts on board have plenty to do. They are busy tending their gardens, managing crops, and deciding what to pick for dinner".

Palmerston NorthThink space. Think NASA. Think plants. Think NASA?

Why not? Astronauts need to eat, but a three-year diet of pills and dehydrated food is hardly the recipe for happy campers on a trip to Mars! If a varied and interesting diet is a key to human well-being on earth, then how much more is it so under the confinement of space.

Not only that, but growing plants regenerate vital oxygen by photosynthesis and can efficiently recycle water and nutrients. These are key aspects of a life support system according to Dr. Gary Stutte, manager of Dynamac Corporation’s Plant Research Group at the Kennedy Space Centre.

Dr Stutte will outline the development of bio-regenerative life support systems and the exciting science and technology involved in growing plants in space, when he gives the opening presentation at the "Managing the Impacts of Climatic Variability: The Noah Paradigm" convention at Massey University, 27-29 June in Palmerston North. He will also give a public talk at the Palmerston North Science Centre on the evening of 29 June.

HortResearch has sponsored Dr Stutte, a plant physiologist and a senior scientist at the Kennedy Space Centre, to speak at the convention. He said that one approach to sustaining life on long-term space missions is to use plants to purify water, remove excess CO2, regenerate O2 and produce food in a bio-regenerative life support system (BLSS). His specialist research has been on advanced life support systems. He is also the principal investigator for a number of experiments involving the effects of micro-gravity on photosynthesis and on carbon partitioning and to determine the effect of spacecraft volatiles on plant growth.

His convention address "Plants in Space: Opportunities and Challenges for the 21st Century", will expand on the difficulties of maintaining an optimal plant growth environment in micro-gravity. He notes that meeting these challenges often has direct application to agricultural, waste management, and ecological issues on Earth

The three-day convention will be of interest to all those involved in the primary production industry, as the main theme is management of the impacts of climatic variability on production. It will be attended by producers and consultants, as wells as researchers in agriculture, horticulture and meteorology. The organiser's stress the aim is to help equip New Zealand industry with the knowledge and skills to weather nature's surprises.

To access general convention information, point your browser at http://hortnet.co.nz/noah/ for registration forms and programme details (and for the text of this release). Please contact Paul Austin (06 356-8080 ext 7774) for more information about Dr Stutte’s visit. Images of Dr Stutte and his work are available if desired.

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