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IAEA and FAO Launch ‘Seeds in Space’ Youth Comic Book Competition



The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have launched a comic book competition inviting 14 to 18 year olds to submit artwork that tells the story of ‘seeds in space’.

The IAEA and FAO sent crop seeds in to space at the end of last year. These seeds are being exposed to a complex mixture of cosmic radiation and harsh space conditions, which could lead to the growth of new plant varieties that can withstand the effects of climate change and help fight global hunger.

Youth around the world are invited to create a paper or digital illustration to portray one of the six main steps of the seeds’ journey to the International Space Station (ISS), and what happens when they arrive back on Earth.

The winning design will be used as the inspiration behind the visuals of the official Seeds in Space comic book.

Seeds in space journey

On 7 November 2022, seeds from the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture laboratories were launched in a cargo shuttle from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility to the ISS where, for around five months, they are being exposed to conditions prevailing in space — a complex mixture of cosmic radiation, microgravity and extreme temperatures — inside and outside the ISS.

The seeds are expected to return at the beginning of April, when they will be germinated, grown and screened for desirable traits. These analyses will help to understand whether cosmic radiation and harsh space conditions will lead to crops becoming more resilient in the face of increasingly difficult growing conditions on Earth.

Six steps of the seeds story

Six steps will be portrayed in the comic and participants may submit drawings for as many of the steps as they wish:

  1. Preparation of seeds for space
  2. Launch into space and docking at the International Space Station
  3. Exposure to cosmic radiation, microgravity and extreme temperatures in space
  4. Splashdown and return to Joint FAO/IAEA Centre laboratories
  5. Analysis and growth in Joint FAO/IAEA Centre laboratories
  6. The results: Do cosmic radiation and space conditions have a uniquely valuable effect on the seeds?

Artwork will be judged by IAEA and FAO scientists and designers, who will select a shortlist of 10 designs (the nominees), and from those select the winning design.

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, 16 April 2023. The winners will be announced on 23 April 2023, World Book and Copyright Day.

More information and submission details can be found here. Participants are welcome to attend the seeds in space event, which will be held in person and online on 27 March 2023, to learn more about seeds in space.

Owing to the high number of submissions, the contest organizers have decided to provide more time for the judges to review the entries. The nominees and the winner will be announced soon.

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