Student Topic:

Capturing Carbon Dioxide for Survival on Earth and in Space

Learning objective:

Based on grade level, students will use scientific inquiry to learn about the importance of the carbon cycle on Earth and in space.

Grade range for general plant science curriculum: K-5
Grade range for environmental science curriculum: 6-12+

Student investigation:

How can you capture the most carbon by growing alfalfa?

In this inquiry-based investigation, students will design an experiment to capture the most carbon by growing the largest alfalfa plants, a versatile forage and legume crop known for high edible biomass production, carbon sequestration, soil rejuvenation, and potential for biofuel.

Driving a mission for change, students will become climate change solutionaries experimenting with alfalfa on a small scale in a classroom experiment and then can plan for a larger impact with a school garden of alfalfa. Concurrently, they will learn about space life support systems and food crop production. Plus, students can opt to get their hands dirty by using local soils to evaluate soil health and productivity. Let’s compare soils globally and determine the resilience of alfalfa to grow under varying nutrient conditions.

On May 13th, students and teachers will begin Phase 2 ground trials to consider and compare growing methods best for Earth and in space. The goal is to grow the biggest plant in 28 days. Recommendations to will be due by June 21, 2022. The experimental design ideas and data can influence the flight experiment protocols being developed concurrently with the researcher team.

A message from:

Dr. Sian Proctor

Dr. Sian Proctor was launched into Earth orbit, on September 15, 2021, as the pilot of the Crew Dragon space capsule. This mission was the Inspiration4 private orbital spaceflight.



ExoLab-10 Mission Timeline

Carbon sequestration of Medicago sativa and/or Medicago Truncatula while under the stress of spaceflight for consideration in biofuel production, bioregenerative life support systems, and edible biomass.

Student Data:

ExoLab Participants: Measure CO2 levels and plant growth (roots, stems, leaves biomass)

Student Kit and Non-ExoLab Participants: Measure the plants (roots, stems, leaves biomass)

Data and observations will influence the flight experiment set-up for ExoLab-10, which launches on SpX-26 in late October 2022 and returns to Earth in early December 2022 after about 45 days in orbit.

Student Collaboration:

We need your help!

Share what you know and learn about your local soil with
students and researchers around the world.


ExoLab Growth Lab

The dimensions of the ExoLab device both terrestrially and in-orbit are based on the common CubeSat specification, which standardizes satellite payloads in an approximate 10 cm cuboid format. ExoLab is in a 2U format, which means that its dimensions are 10 x 10 x 22 cm, approximately.

Within this compact frame are a series of sensors to capture, record, and report data, including images, as well as a system to keep the test organisms alive. All of these operate autonomously and continuously. More details.


Working with JGI and other researchers, flight experiment protocols will be developed to grow alfalfa in space and evaluate its growth in a closed, microgravity environment compared to the 1G of Earth. With a goal to sequester carbon in both environments, students will learn how plants are one part of solving the climate change crisis as well as how they can be used in bioregenerative life support systems in spacecraft. The use of symbiotic organisms, growing media, lighting conditions, and experimental set-up will be dependent on ground trials and advice from researchers.




The U.S. National Laboratory manages the International Space Station National Laboratory as a public service in order to benefit the U.S. taxpayer and to foster a scalable and sustainable low Earth orbit economy. We leverage our core competencies, facilitate public-private partnerships, and utilize the platform capabilities and unique operating environment of the space station. We create demand, incubate in-space business ventures, provide access for and awareness of fundamental science and technological innovation, and promote science literacy of the future workforce.





The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, a DOE Office of Science User Facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is committed to advancing genomics in support of DOE missions related to clean energy generation and environmental characterization and cleanup. JGI provides integrated high-throughput sequencing and computational analysis that enable systems-based scientific approaches to these challenges. 

By growing alfalfa in space, this crop could be evaluated for:

  • Biofuel production

  • Biomass production to promote regolith to soil development on the Moon or Mars

  • Bioregenerative life support through removal of carbon dioxide

  • And edible biomass as a supplemental food source for astronauts


How to participate…

Ground Trial DIY


  • Ground Trials begin in March and May 2022
  • Recommendations on how to upcycle the experiments supplies¹ from your kitchen or classroom
  • Limited access to some ground trial lessons
  • Magnitude LIVE(s) with special guests

You can purchase the complete
ExoLab-10 experience at any time.

¹A supplies list will be provided.

Ground Trial with Kits


  • Ground Trials in March and May 2022
  • GT Experiment Classroom Supplies Kit¹
  • Full access to all custom ground trial lessons and online tools
  • LMS license through June 30, 2022
  • Magnitude LIVE(s) with special guests
  • 30 mission stickers
  • 1 Official ExoLab-10 Mission Patch

You can upgrade to the complete
ExoLab-10 experience at any time.

¹The Classroom Kit contains…

  • 1 Teacher Kit
  • Supplies for 30 students

Orders will be shipped after Feb. 22, 2022.

Complete ExoLab-10 Experience


  • ExoLab growth chamber (pre-order for August 2022 delivery)
  • Ground Trials in March and May
  • GT Experiment Classroom Supplies Kit¹
  • Full access to all custom ground trial lessons and online tools
  • Magnitude LIVE(s) with special guests
  • Professional development sessions
  • ExoLab-10 ISS Flight Mission
  • LMS license with full access to flight mission lessons and online tools
  • Access to the post-flight analysis session, data, and reports
  • Submission to global poster session
  • Certificate of ExoLab-10 completion
  • 30 mission stickers
  • 1 woven mission patch

¹The Classroom Kit contains…

  • 1 Teacher Kit
  • Supplies for 30 students

Limited availability. Reserve your ExoLab now for the launch in October.

Join the ExoLab-10 Research Team

You are needed on this mission for survival on Earth and in space. Complete the form below to request a complimentary preflight training session as well as receive mission status reports. Or over on the right, select a briefing time with Ted Tagami, CEO and ExoLab-10 Flight Director.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.