John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

News and information from the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Thesis Defense by Steven Russell on April 29th

You are invited to attend the thesis defense for Space Studies M.S. candidate Steven Russell, scheduled for Thursday, April 29th at 10:00 am Central DST.  See live stream link below.

Research Title: “An Evaluation of CI Asteroid Regolith as a Plant Growth Medium for Space Crop Production”

Research Description: Asteroids have had researchers interested in the idea of utilizing their resources for scientific discovery, technological development, and human expansion. A critical part of human missions is self-sustainability and in-situ resource utilization. One part of this self-sustainability is food production via edible crops without the need for resupply missions. C-type asteroids are abundant and some are in close proximity to earth. Making them excellent targets for a crewed mission. More importantly, the meteorite analogs of these asteroids how shown to contain soluble elemental nutrients that plants can utilize for growth and development. This suggests that the regolith of these asteroids may have similar nutrient content. Understanding the interaction between plants and the regolith will be essential for astronaut autonomy. Additionally, C-type asteroids can be divided into subgroups, the CI, CM, CV, CO, and others. All of which have different histories of aqueous alteration and mineral compositions. This research focuses on the ability of a CI asteroid regolith simulant to sustain vegetable growth and produce edible biomass.

Bio: Steven Russell is pursuing his M.S. degree in Space Studies with a focus in Planetary Science and has a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Dakota. He has held two positions within the Space Studies department and is currently is a telescope operator at the UND Observatory. His research interests are in the Space Life Sciences and Astrobiology, particularly with life in extreme environments. After graduation, he plans to gain experience in the field, and hopes to continue his education in a Ph.D. program that focuses on Astrobiology.

Committee: Dr. Sherry Fieber-Beyer (Chair), Dr. Kathryn Yurkonis, and Dr. Mike Gaffey

Live stream:




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