The primary subjects include basil, sunflowers, turnips and various plants. Each will be placed within a coffee can like device with just about everything they need to grow. The scientists want to see how radiation, limited gravitation, and other space conditions impact the plants. If everything works out well it may someday be possible to grow a food source for stations on other planets.
Each canister works like an incubator. The aluminum cylinders include a camera, sensors, and other electronics. Researchers will be able to measure and view growth from Earth to see which plants are able to grow and which don’t make it. The information may be used to improve upon the canisters for future use.
The advantage of the government and business collaborative effort reduces costs from $300 million down to a couple of million dollars. With growth in commercialized flight it is possible that many more projects can be hedged with lower costs. NASA uses their knowledge while spurring greater innovation with less risk in the process. Companies get the advantage of developing new products and services while contributing to national development.