COOPERATION IN SPACE-RELATED BIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH
Project Number: 0208-32000-001-18
Memorandum of Understanding
Start Date: Jul 23, 2008
End Date: Jul 22, 2013
This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) sets forth a framework of cooperation between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to encourage:
• Communication and interaction between the USDA/ARS and NASA research communities to facilitate space-related research and to integrate results from that microgravity research into an improved understanding of plant and animal biology, and the Earth’s environment.
• Exchange of ideas, information, and data arising from their respective research efforts.
• Development of agricultural research approaches and technologies for use on Earth and in space.
• Research in Earth- and space-based facilities that could be on Earth, in space and/or using space-based remote sensing capabilities:
Of particular interest is the application of the U.S. portion of the International Space Station (ISS) as a National Laboratory, as established by P.L. 109-155. The designation as a National Laboratory underscores the significance and importance that the United States places on the scientific potential of the ISS for research in areas including, but not limited to,
• Basic biological mechanisms in the absence of gravity.
• Plant and animal physiology and metabolism.
• Genetic regulation of plant and animal cell growth and differentiation.
• Plant and animal pathogen infectivity and host immunity.
Each agency has existing programs and resources for facilitating research and technology development. Research facilitated by this MOU will be complementary to studies supported by the USDA/ARS and NASA, at the agencies’ intramural or extramural laboratories.
When complete, the ISS will provide a unique life sciences laboratory and will be able to facilitate testing of new biosensors and technologies that are useful to agriculture, or derived from agricultural materials. It also may promote development of international research collaborations that would improve Earth’s environment, quality of life, and human nutrition and well being around the world with potential fundamental discoveries. The U.S. segment of the ISS will have laboratory space, data processing capabilities, and crew time for experiments conducted on the ISS once it is fully operational in 2011. Because commitment of ISS resources is likely to be made on a first come, first serve basis through strategic alliances that will advance research in agriculture, biology and biotechnology, now is an appropriate time for researchers supported by the USDA/ARS to begin proposing studies, conducting preliminary experiments on Earth, and arranging with NASA to have their hypotheses tested on the ISS after its assembly has been completed.