Today on the 51st Earth Day, the world is called to come together to #RestoreOurEarth. By joining together, we can accomplish amazing things. For more than 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously onboard the International Space Station (ISS). This has been a truly global endeavor: More than 240 people from 19 countries have visited the orbiting laboratory, which has hosted close to 3,000 investigations from more than 4,200 researchers in more than 100 countries! Leveraging this one-of-a-kind laboratory in space, the world comes together to advance science and technology in ways not possible on the ground.
Research on the ISS not only benefits life on Earth and supports our efforts to explore beyond our planet—it also benefits the Earth itself. From experiments aimed at improving agricultural production and commercial products to research on the atmosphere and our oceans, scientists are using the ISS U.S. National Laboratory for important research to benefit our planet.
Below, learn about some of the ways the ISS National Lab is supporting important sustainability-related research and development to help #RestoreOurEarth.
Addressing the Sustainability Challenge
Since the earliest days of operation, the ISS has been used to monitor global climate, ecological, and environmental change and natural disasters, and the ISS National Lab continues to support important sustainability research.
ISS National Lab sustainability-related projects are diverse, and results from these studies provide meaningful insights into materials and processes that drive sustainable development.
Investigators from innovative companies and academia are leveraging the ISS National Lab for research projects with important applications in sustainability.
Observing the Earth
Researchers are using the space station as a powerful platform to view our planet, enabling a wide range of Earth science research.
Improving Water Sustainability
The ISS National Lab enables valuable research to address water sustainability—from remote sensing to plant science research and technology development of consumer products with important sustainability applications.
Monitoring Ecosystem Productivity
Scientists can use images taken from the space station to better understand variations in ecosystem productivity, or the ability of an ecosystem to convert carbon dioxide into biomass.
The ISS National Lab is helping to improve agriculture back on Earth—through research to enhance crops and expand agricultural productivity, studies on environmentally friendly agricultural pest control, and student programs to help spark an interest in agriculture.
Carbon dioxide capture from the fossil fuel combustion exhaust of industrial plants remains a key area of Earth-based sustainability research, and the ISS may serve as a valuable platform to advance CO2 capture technology.
Seeking Solutions to the Plastics Problem
New solutions to the problem of plastic pollution on Earth could arise from the unique ability to conduct research and observe our planet from space.