The National Space Organization(NSPO) participated in the Japanese-led AHiS program (Asian Seeds Program), sending seeds of four Taiwanese plants to the Kibo (Japanese for "hope") capsule on the International Space Station at the end of last year. The seeds sent to the space will return to Earth in mid-July after "boarding" for more than 200 days. Afterwards, elementary and middle school students will be recruited to plant the seeds for the prospective achievement of space industry in Taiwan.
AHiS is a space- themed education programme launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to help students and scientists from all over the world send plant seeds to the Kibo module on the International Space Station to conduct biology research and experiments. The NSPO collaborated with National Chung Hsing University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, which is overseen by the Council of Agriculture, selected and sent seeds of four species of plants, including the Taiwan orchid, Taiwan quinoa, pepper and sunflower, to the Kibo module for experiments in the space environment.
The senior engineer of the NSPO, Dr. Shan-Guo Yang, has pointed out that the AHiS programme sent seeds from eight countries to the International Space Station in two separate stages – December 7,2020 and June 3,2021. The seeds of four Taiwanese plants, totaling 50 grams, were successfully launched in the first stage.
After two months on board the Kibo capsule, Japanese astronaut Satoichi Noguchi took out Japanese sweet basil and Malaysian holy basil seeds and began a month-long planting experiment, recording the growth every day and then freezing the plants on March 18. The result revealed that both sweet basil and holy basil are easily grown plants and may become food for astronauts in the near future.
Dr. Yang said that all the space seeds will return to Earth in mid-July, first the United States and Japan the next, while the Taiwanese seeds are expected to return home in August. The invited elementary and high school students will plant the space seeds and ordinary seeds at the same time, conducting a comparison between their growths for observation. In addition, Japan has also donated 7,000 regular sweet basil seeds for plantation (which have not been in space) to Taiwan so that we can collect more statistics from analyzing them, selecting suitable candidates for space migration.
Photo/ Four types of seeds of Taiwanese plants were sent to the space last year