SPACE2: Space, Policy, Agriculture, Climate, and Extreme Environment.

Our team’s grand vision for SPACE² is “The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will grow the first acre of corn on Mars’ soil.” UNL would like to bring the Green Revolution Moment to Mars by researching ways to create circular agriculture on the red planet. With this vision, our team anticipates that, in the next half century, UNL will lead the nation in developing a transdisciplinary, signature academic program in Space Ag. The program will be an epicenter of cutting-edge research in Space Ag, fostering world-renowned scholars, vibrant teaching and outreach activities, and far-reaching impacts on the humanities and society.

  • UNL is strategically well-positioned to lead the Space Ag enterprise in the nation. Agriculture is a leading industry in Nebraska with millions of acres of corn and soybeans. The vision and concept of “farming on Mars” will engage Nebraska citizens and excite and motivate our younger generation farmers.
  • UNL already has strong research bases in many disciplines essential for Space Ag, including plant genetics and biochemistry, controlled environment agriculture and robotics, space law, science literacy, food science and technology to just mention a few.

News & Events

Save the date.

Nebraska Space Ag
(Ag4Space) Symposium

November 30 - December 1, 2023

Register here.

View the agenda here.

A man in a space suit holding a plant.

Huskers aim to launch first center for space agriculture

It’s little wonder that so much of the early research into space exploration would orbit around escaping gravity’s grip, or that the source of that escape, the rocket, would occupy so many minds with the cosmic ambition to match their intellect.

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A student inspects a water sample in a lab.

UNL graduate students team up with LPS, DMS to “Plant the Moon”

Cassie Palmer and Ehsan Fazayeli have been meeting regularly with Dawes and Lincoln Northeast High School to share a hands-on version of science. It’s part of the Plant the Moon Challenge, a program from the Institute of Competition Sciences in collaboration with NASA. The overarching goal connects with NASA’s Artemis program, which intends to get humans back on the Moon for the first time since the 1970s.

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Dr. Wheeler presents a lecture in Chase Hall.

Dr. Wheeler of NASA visits BSE department

On April 26, Raymond Wheeler visited the BSE department and shared his findings on agriculture for human life support in space. Dr. Wheeler is a NASA plant physiologist and senior scientist.

He presented on a wide range of topics including bioregenerative life support on the moon and Mars, crop considerations for space, ISS plant facilities and more.
Yufeng Ge presents at the 2023 Water for Food conference.

Space² team presents at 2023 Water for Food conference 

On May 10, Yufeng Ge and Santosh Pitla presented a session titled "Simulation and Speculation for Earthly Survival" at the 2023 Water for Food Global Conference, presented by the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute. The purpose of the panel was to explore art-science collaborative research and rethink the role of speculative design and storytelling in the scientific research and engineering.

Dr. Ge and Dr. Pitla shared the Space² team's vision of bringing the green revolution to the Moon and Mars by researching ways to create circular agriculture in space. Other presenters on the team were Ash Eliza Smith, Robert Twomey and Elsbeth Magilton.

Team members

Leadership Team Team members
  • Dipti Dev, Associate Professor, UNL Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies

  • Brittany Duncan, Associate Professor, UNL School of Computing

  • Jennifer Keshwani, Associate Professor, UNL Biological Systems Engineering

  • Bethany Lowndes, Assistant Professor, UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences

  • David Mabie, Assistant Professor of Practice, UNL Biological Systems Engineering

  • Elsbeth Magilton, Executive Director of Space, Cyber and Telecom Law, Nebraska College of Law

  • Kaustav Majumder, Assistant Professor, UNL Food Science and Technology Department

  • Rebecca Roston, Associate Professor, UNL Biochemistry

  • James Schnable, Professor, UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture

  • Mindi Searls, Research Assistant Professor, UNL Earth & Atmospheric Sciences

  • Ash Eliza Smith, Assistant Professor of Emerging Media Arts, Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts

  • Robert Twomey, Assistant Professor of Emerging Media Arts, Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts

  • Frans von der Dunk, Othmer Professor of Space Law, Nebraska College of Law

Contact Information

For more information about the SPACE2 project, contact:

Headshot of Yufeng Ge

Yufeng Ge
Project co-lead

Headshot of Santosh Pitla

Santosh Pitla
Project co-lead

SPACE2 is funded by a Grand Challenges Planning Grant.