Dr. Mike Dixon is a Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences and Director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF), University of Guelph. He served as Chair of the Department of Environmental Biology from 2003-2008. Dr. Dixon joined the University as a NSERC University Research Fellow after earning his PhD from Edinburgh University in Scotland and holding a post-doctoral position at the University of Toronto. As project leader for the Canadian research team investigating the contributions of plants to life support in space, Dr. Dixon formed the Space and Advanced Life Support Agriculture (SALSA) program at the University of Guelph. This program currently represents Canada’s main contribution to the international space science objectives in biological life support and collaborates with NASA, Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency. The CESRF is among the world’s leading research venues for technology developments and research dedicated to studying plant and microbial interactions in advanced life support systems. The technical “pull” of space exploration has aided the development of a wide range of technologies that have spun off into applications in terrestrial agri-food sectors and most notably the phyto-pharmaceutical (medicine from plants) sector in recent years.
• Build a dedicated closed-environment research space designed for the multi-disciplinary research and production of medicinal plants;
• Expand our critical mass of researchers, engineers, scientists;
• Acquire advanced research technologies in support of the highest quality plant research;
• Create dedicated cannabis research capacity to support the new and growing cannabis and cannabinoid research industry;
• Develop a body of research that focuses on genetics and breeding, propagation, production, harvesting, compositional analysis, postharvest storage, processing and using cannabis for human and animal health;
• Assist the cannabis industry with developing quality control standards for large-scale indoor/controlled environment production of recreational and medicinal cannabis;
• Provide industry training, technical support and technology transfer;
• Support governments with evidence-based scientific, peer reviewed research to assist with the development and evaluation of regulations and policy;
• Train the next generation of medicinal plant research and policy leaders through advanced experiential learning that shapes the future of medicinal plant research and its broad applications;
• Collaboratively support the growth of agri-food industry, medicinal plant production, and controlled environment food sustainability;
• Lead and influence social, economic, and health policies surrounding the vast medicinal plant industry through knowledge translation, vital partnerships, and quality production.
March 11, 2020, Indorgro™ Founder, Brad Rubin(left) with Dr. Mike Dixon, agree on the next mission
This video features CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield and celebrity chef Lynn Crawford, both jury members of the Deep Space Food Challenge.
A critical component of future, human exploration to worlds unknown, will be the supply of edible food for crewmembers. To develop innovations in cultivating food in closed-loop systems becomes integral to future missions.
Tomatosphere™ is a free program where Kindergarten to Grade 12 students use "space" tomato seeds to learn about plants in space, right here on Earth.
The concept for Tomatosphere™ originated in late 1999 and the project held its first formal meeting on February 7, 2000. The project was formally activated when 200,000 Heinz tomato seeds went into space on November 30, 2000, with Canadian astronaut, Dr. Marc Garneau. Source: National Post (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1 Mar 2001, Page 72)
Tomatosphere™ seeds are exposed each year to actual or simulated space flight conditions. Canadian Astronaut Robert (Bob) Thirsk with seeds aboard the International Space Station and then distributed them to participating classrooms. Media Credit: NASA/CSA
Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and former commander of the ISS, poses with 600,000 tomato seeds for the Tomatosphere™ project, which returned to Earth with Hadfield in May 2013 after orbiting Earth for 9 months aboard the space station. The seeds will be grown by classrooms across Canada and the United States. Media Credit: NASA/CSA
2015-04-18 - NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly poses with 600 000 tomato seeds for the Tomatosphere™ educational project. These space-faring seeds will be distributed to about 18 000 classes in Canada and the US during the 2016-17 school year. The seeds were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on board SpaceX’s Dragon on April 14, and will return to Earth on May 21. MEDIA CREDIT: Image courtesy of NASA
Astronaut Edward M. (Mike) Fincke, NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer, is pictured in the Zvezda Service Module of the ISS. A bag of tomato seeds for the Tomatosphere II Project floats nearby. MEDIA CREDIT: Image courtesy of NASA
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet is seen holding two bags of tomato seeds as part of the latest Tomatosphere session. Media Credit: NASA/CSA/ESA
Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques took a selfie with the Tomatosphere™ seeds during his mission to the international space station in 2019. These seeds were distributed (labeled with the letters N&P) to project participants in the spring of 2020. Media Credit: NASA/CSA