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Seeds in Space

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Students in science classes from the 5th grade to the post-doctoral level will be sprouting millions of tomato seeds next fall, fresh from storage containers in space.

Their cultivation efforts will be part of a science-education program sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the George W. Park Seed Company in Greenwood, S.C.

seeds, or "Space Exposed Experiment Developed for Students," will involve about four million students in the U.S. and American schools overseas. In the project, participants will grow and compare a total of 12.5 million seeds currently being stored in space with a control group of 12.5 million earth-bound seeds.

According to Doris K. Grigsby, nasa's coordinator for the seeds program, the participating students will design and conduct experi3ments on the tomato plants to try to determine the effects of long-term exposure to the space environment.

Ms. Grigsby said the seeds have been stored since last April in canisters aboard nasa's Long Duration Exposure Facility, a satellite the size of a school bus that is now orbiting the earth.

"We will retrieve the satellite in mid-March," Ms. Grigsby explained, "and the seeds will go to about 250,000 classrooms for experimentation in the fall of 1985."

The Park seed company approached nasa with the idea for the science-education project a little more than a year ago, and is providing the seeds and storing the earth-bound control group.

Schools interested in becoming involved with the seeds program should write to: Education Services Branch--LFC, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, D.C. 20546.

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