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Culture-based Environmental Monitoring of Crop-based Space Food Systems (Veggie_Monitoring)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Environmental monitoring
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human


Crew members live and work in a closed-system environment that is monitored to ensure health and safety. The design and development of the International Space System (ISS) has incorporated lessons learned from microbial monitoring of previous spaceflight missions. The microbial control actions on the ISS include engineering designs, such as high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering of the air, microbial monitoring of the air, surfaces, and water, and remediation procedures when necessary. The current spacecraft environmental microbial limits were evaluated based on the continual monitoring of the microbes in the spaceflight environment.

New systems, such as the Veggie plant growth system, are being introduced to enable mission success. Collecting measures on new systems is important to the development of spaceflight-grown produce requirements. Periodic sampling of the microbes will provide the data needed to assess the impact of the plant growth system on crewmembers’ safety. Since the Veggie system is open to the cabin environment, it is critical to understand what microbes are present in the plant growth system.

This investigation will focus on characterizing the microbial community of the Veggie plant growth system to assess the risk of adverse health effects due to host-microorganism interactions. The objective of this experiment is to characterize the microbial community of the Veggie plant growth system in order to identify a baseline of microorganisms. This experiment has the following specific aims:

  1. Develop microbial requirements for spaceflight grown produce.
  2. Provide inputs to future plant growth system design.

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Air microbiology
Water microbiology

Bacterial growth
Fungus growth
Microbes, air
Microbes, surface
Microbes, water

Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Expedition 59 03/14/2019 06/24/2019 102 days
Expedition 60 06/24/2019 10/03/2019 101 days
Expedition 64 10/21/2020 04/16/2021 177 days
Expedition 65 04/16/2021 10/17/2021 184 days
Expedition 66 10/17/2021 03/30/2022 164 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
Directed Research