Payload Blog

Transporting Boys and Girls to Mars

Mars Base 1 is a futuristic “pre-creation” of a working base. It features three different lab areas, a galley and a docking hub for the Mars Transfer Vehicle (MTV) that brings our trainees to the Red Planet and then returns them to Earth at the end of their duty shift. This summer, we transported more than 1,000 guests to Mars in our Pegasus-class crew module aboard the Mars Transfer Vehicle, Concordia.

Three of these missions on Mars Base 1 were carried out by members of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida. Club members from the Mims, Temple Terrace, and Cocoa clubs traveled to Mars Base 1 to complete an internship in the Life Science Botany Lab. There, they harvested a variety of fruits and vegetables, collecting data to send to NASA scientists who are working on food production experiments such as Veggie and the Advanced Plant Habitat. Some of the plants our budding botanists (pun intended) worked with included NuMex chili peppers, green arrow peas, pak choi, and southern giant curled mustard.

Students using computers while working in the botany lab
Club members from the Cocoa Boys and Girls Club measure the size of pak choi plants using a leaf area meter. Other data collected included fresh mass, height, diameter, leaf count, and chlorophyll readings. The equipment they use is the same used by the scientists in NASA’s lab.
Students working in the Botany Lab
Temple Terrace Boys and Girls Club members harvest fruit from the NuMex chili and green arrow pea experiments. In addition to measuring the overall size of the plants, they counted and weighed the fruits.

Summer campers also participated in experiments in the Botany Lab, including the planting and harvesting of assorted microgreens. These hands-on experiences taught our astronaut trainees the basic principles of indoor gardening and gave them a taste (another pun) for the science of botany, which affects all of our lives every day.

Camp KSC students gathering and separating greens.
Summer campers harvest six different microgreens. After completing the harvest, they each packaged up some samples to take home and share with their families. They also planted seeds for other campers to harvest in the weeks to come.

Follow the plants’ progress in the Botany Lab through the official Mars Base 1 Botany Lab Facebook. There you can check on the growth of our vegetables, including the seeds your students planted! Remember, data collected during Mars Base 1 is sent to real NASA scientists to assist their research.

After a trip to Mars Base 1, your students will leave Mars with a better understanding of how to adapt to life away from Earth. It is an experience unlike any other on the planet!

Reserve Your Trip