The Centre for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the organisation which manages a national laboratory at the International Space Station, has organised a competition to design cotton farming in Space.
The CASIS officials have sought help from researchers, asking them to suggest techniques for growing cotton in the microgravity environment in space station through the "ISS Cotton Sustainability Challenge".
The experiment is focused on identifying ways to improve sustainable and efficient cotton production on Earth. Reduction of water usage and minimal use of chemicals are some of the desired outcomes of the experiment.
"Researchers are encouraged to submit concepts focused on, but not limited to: fluid dynamics or fluid flow to improve seed germination and plant water-use efficiency, testing of difficult cotton cultivars exposed to microgravity to monitor gene expression and water stress, and remote sensing applications to improve cotton production through crop monitoring" CASIS stated.
Cotton is a crop which requires abundance of water and other resources for its cultivation. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the cotton needed to produce a single cotton T-shirt would require 2700 litres of water and 142 grams of pesticides.
CASIS officials reveal cotton cultivation requires access to natural resources, therefore making them increasingly open to overexploitation. The climate change also results in the depletion of the resources. Reducing the usage of natural resources is a major challenge for the cotton growers.
The CASIS official statement said that, the price money for the winner would be $1 million in grants funded by Target Corp. The contestants will be scheduled for flight to the ISS National Lab.
Contestants are open to fill in their entries till November 1. The winners of the challenge will be announced on November 23, 2018, coinciding with Earth Day.