Scientists find how some plants can survive near-vacuum conditions

January 15th, 2011 - 3:02 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 15 (ANI): Scientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida have found that some plants can survive in near-vacuum conditions.

Vacuum-like conditions are difficult to survive in because they lack oxygen needed for respiration. Moreover, water, a component of many living things, boils quickly at low pressure, reports New Scientist.

Raymond Wheeler and his colleagues grew radish, lettuce, and wheat plants for 20 days in a chamber at normal atmospheric pressure. To test if and how plants survived in low-pressures, they pumped the air out to create 1.5 per cent of the average air pressure at sea level, for 30 minutes.

Once they returned the pressure to normal, the plants continued to grow normally. However, in low-pressure conditions, water evaporated from the leaves.

The finding is important because until now, only bacteria have shown such resilience.

Wheeler believes dehydration, rather than a lack of oxygen, will ultimately kill plants exposed to a vacuum and hopes to test their breaking point in future experiments.

The study appears in Advances in Space Research. (ANI)

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