NASA's New App Lets You Become a Crewmember on the ISS

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 - 3:20PM
NASA
Technology
Space
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 - 3:20PM
NASA's New App Lets You Become a Crewmember on the ISS
Last month, NASA quietly released the awesome new educational app "Space Science Investigations: Plant Growth," which lets Android and Apple users experience life aboard the ISS. The app really lives up to its name—it's all about managing space-plants. "Welcome to the International Space Station!" the game says. "As the newest member of the ISS crew, it's your task to familiarize yourself with the station, and help out with the plant growth experiment." Sounds do-able.

Players follow along with the real-life mission aboard the International Space Station, where astronauts began attempting to grow plants in space over the course of the past year, culminating in a delicious, edible red lettuce salad. "In anticipation of long duration missions in the future, plant growth in space will become more important for several reasons," Sharon Goza, IGOAL Project Manager at NASA-Johnson Space Center, told Gizmodo. "Growing plants for food in space not only provides a variety of nutrients, but also may provide psychological benefits." We agree—being a space gardener sounds like the coolest hobby ever.


Admittedly, the graphics are not the best, but who cares? It's still fun. First, you tackle zero-Gs—figuring out how to move around the space station and getting comfortable being weightless. Developers even threw in a few tricks, like getting to do flips in midair and even "flying" around the station. Once you get the hang of moving around, you're introduced to a fellow astronaut named Naomi, who gently guides you towards the plant-growing area, and tasks you with growing a full, edible salad. According to Gizmodo, a good portion of the game is learning to "manipulate different levels of water, light, and air to help plants grow." Meditative!


Not only is the game fun and engaging, it's also incredibly informative, providing real-life facts about the struggles of plant growth in microgravity. The astronauts in that new sci-fi movie Life could learn a thing or two. In fact, that studio is probably kicking themselves for not thinking of the app first.

"Space Science Investigations: Plant Growth" is available now for free for both iPhone and Android.
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