Which way is up? Professor hopes his plants will find the answer in space

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OWU Professor Chris Wolverton and assistant Nathan MaDonich in research lab. (WSYX)

An Ohio Wesleyan professor will send his plants into space, launching them to the International Space Station for experimentation in microgravity.

Chris Wolverton's experiments are expected to launch later this week on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

On Earth, plants' roots grow down and leaves grow up, but in space there is no down, no up and no gravity. Wolverton is sending seedlings of a mustard plant into space to see how zero gravity affects them.

"What we're interested in is what's the least amount of gravity a plant can detect," he said.

Wolverton and his assistant, Nathan Madonich, will travel to Florida for the launch. This will be the second time Wolverton has had experiments in space. The first came while he was a graduate student and he had experiments on STS-95, the Space Shuttle Discovery flight that featured John Glenn's return to space.

Wolverton expects to get data back from the ISS as early as January and then will get his plants back when the mission is completed. For now, he and Madonich will do what every farmer and gardener must do: wait.

"I think I'll be a little nervous there's always some anticipation of how your plants will grow," said Madonich.