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Indiana Space Trees


~ by Kristi Whitacre, Community Development Educator & County Extension Director, Vigo County


Sycamore and Tulip Poplar tree seeds orbited the Earth on the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis STS more than 30 years ago, from December 2-6, 1988, as part of a Purdue Extension 4-H project with Astronaut Jerry Ross. The seeds were grown into saplings on Purdue University’s campus and one was donated to each county Extension Office in Indiana in 1989 to celebrate the diamond anniversary of Purdue Cooperative Extension Service. These trees continue to grow in many Indiana communities today.



Kristi Whitacre, Purdue Extension Educator, and Daniel Walker, Purdue Community Planning Extension Specialist, have documented the story and gathered information on the remaining trees in an interactive story map.

Click the link to view the map, learn about the history of the project, get tips on harvesting the seeds, and learn more about astronaut Jerry Ross:

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