Taiwan is to send plant seeds to outer space for the first time in October to observe how the space environment affects their genetic makeup, the National Space Organization (NSPO) said.
The Space Seeds for Asian Future program is being developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Nine nations, including Taiwan, are participating in the program this year, with 16 kinds of seeds expected to be sent to the International Space Station (ISS), where they would stay for about four months, the NSPO said.
Participating nations have primarily chosen the seeds of endemic plants or plants with symbolic meaning, it said, adding that some are crop seeds.
The NSPO collaborated with National Chung Hsing University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, which is overseen by the Council of Agriculture, to choose which seeds to send, it said.
The college has chosen the seeds of Formosa lambsquarters, Phalaenopsis equestris, which is a kind of “butterfly orchid” originating from Lesser Orchid Island (小蘭嶼), and sunflowers, while the institute has picked chili pepper seeds, the NSPO said.