NASA mobile game lets you grow plants on the ISS

NASA quietly launched a mobile game last month that allows gamers to grow their own virtual plants aboard the International Space Station. Called "Space Science Investigations: Plant Growth," the game takes players aboard the ISS, where they meet the crew, gather items, float around, and ultimately get their own mission: experimental plant growth.

According to the iTunes listing, the game was published on December 5; it is available in English and clocks in at just under 200MB in size. Players are first presented with the ISS's micro-gravity environment, where they have to learn how to get around in "zero-g." This includes getting to do flips and 'fly' around the space station.

Once you get bored of that, you can strike up a conversation with the astronaut and ISS crew member Naomi, where you'll be introduced to the game's leading experiment. Players gain an understanding of some of the issues that micro gravity presents for growing plants, including the big question of how they can be watered sans gravity.

NASA has long worked at perfecting the art of growing plants in a low gravity environment, something considered necessary for providing food during long duration flights (such as to Mars), as well as in habitation pods on other planets. ISS researchers have already had some success, such as growing this flower in space.