Ottawa, Nov. 10, 2003 /CNW/ – Mauril Bélanger, MP for Ottawa-Vanier, on
behalf of Allan Rock, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the
Canadian Space Agency today announced before a group of 200 Ottawa-area
students that half a million Heinz tomato seeds will be launched to the
International Space Station onboard a Russian rocket in early 2004 as part
of the Tomatosphere Project.

The Tomatosphere Project uses Space to teach students to think critically,
and to help them to explore science concepts in way that will allow them to
enjoy and embrace science learning. A national educational outreach program,
the Tomatosphere Project is designed to challenge students to uncover clues
about growing food in space through scientific experiments.

“This project opens young minds to the idea that they can be a contributing
part of ‘science’, ‘exploration’, ‘innovation’ and ‘discovery’. It
epitomizes the value of collaborations between public, private organizations
and the academic community to bring innovative and inspiring learning
opportunities to the youth of this country,” said Mauril Bélanger, MP.

Long-term space missions to Mars will use plants to provide a source of
food, water, oxygen and a way to consume the carbon dioxide produced by the
crewmembers. Data collected from the student experiments will help achieve a
better understanding about the effects of space travel on seed germination.

The announcement was followed by a presentation from CSA Astronaut Dr. Bob
Thirsk and Dr. Mike Dixon from the University of Guelph, who spoke about
life support requirements for manned missions to Mars and the importance of
plants in manned planetary exploration.

To register for the 2004 edition of the Tomatosphere project visit