Crowdsourcing is one of the newest ways for projects to get off the ground with valuable input from individuals that may not have been able to participate via other means. The U.S. Army is using crowdsourcing to develop new gear, software companies are using crowdsourcing to create and update programs so they are more user-friendly. The list of ways that this technology can be beneficial is constantly growing. And now, NASA has jumped on the bandwagon with their latest project.
NASA's latest endeavor involves growing plants on the moon. There are several reasons that NASA wants to develop this project. If this is successful, it will be the first time that humans have successfully taken life forms from the Earth and transplanted them onto other celestial beings for long-term growth and benefit. In addition, plant growth on the moon will allow for further in-depth research about biology, agriculture and the universe around us.
A group of scientists from NASA, together with NASA contractors, students from various schools throughout the country, as well as other volunteers have banded together under the title of "The Lunar Plant Growth Habitat Team" to get this project off the ground. The group is getting plants started and set up for success before they are taken to the moon to continue growing. The types of plants that NASA hopes to grow on the moon include basil, sunflowers, turnips and arabidopsis. These plants are being grown much the way a home garden is grown; started in aluminum cans with soil and water. The Lunar Plant Growth Habitat Team takes coffee can plant growth one step further, however. The plants need habitats that can successfully regulate temperature, water availability and power sources to protect them from the harsh climate on the moon. To that end, the team has supplied each growing container with cameras, sensors and other electronics that will send broadcasts of the plants during the growth cycle.
So, what does crowdsourcing have to do with this? NASA has supplied school students and volunteers with identical plants and plant habitats. The students and volunteers will tend the same types of plants that are being grown on the moon. NASA will compare data to see the similarities and differences between those plants that are being grown here on Earth, and those in the lunar plane. This is a great educational opportunity for children and allows them to be part of something that may have a huge impact on life as we know it. It also helps NASA save thousands of dollars on the experiment itself.
The program is already receiving praise due to the cost savings involved. This project allows NASA to do the same work and measure the results at just a fraction of what such a project would normally cost. With budget cuts being made all across the board, it is imperative that money be saved whenever possible. This project may also teach humankind how to subsist on other planets, which will be a huge breakthrough in the exploration of the universe.
The project also demonstrates the importance of crowdsourcing. Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to launch projects and collect data, businesses and organizations of every size are turning to crowdsourcing to gather necessary information. This allows unbiased input from others while saving money and getting data that might not otherwise have been discovered through other means. Crowdsourcing is much less expensive than other methods, and in many cases can be a simpler way of getting projects off the ground and making them successful. The benefits are endless to organizations of all sizes.