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The effect of gravity on surface temperatures of plant leaves

Kitaya, Y., Kawai, M., Tsuruyama, J., Takahashi, H., Tani, A., Goto, E., Saito, T., Kiyota, M.
Plant, cell and environment 2003 v.26 no.4 pp. 497-503
Ipomoea batatas, sweet potatoes, Hordeum vulgare, barley, leaves, surface temperature, gas exchange, transpiration, heat transfer, gravity, aerospace technology, microgravity
A fundamental study was conducted to develop a facility having an adequate air circulation system for growing healthy plants over a long-term under microgravity conditions in space. To clarify the effects of gravity on heat exchange between plant leaves and the ambient air, surface temperatures of sweet potato and barley leaves and replica leaves made of wet paper and copper were evaluated at gravity levels of 0.01, 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 g for 20 s each during parabolic aeroplane flights. Thermal images were captured using infrared thermography at an air temperature of 26 °C, a relative humidity of 18% and an irradiance of 260 W m ²̄. Mean leaf temperatures increased by 0.9-1.0 °C with decreasing gravity levels from 1.0 to 0.01 g and decreased by 0.5 °C with increasing gravity levels from 1.0 to 2.0 g. The increase in leaf temperatures was at most 1.9 °C for sweet potato leaves over 20 s as gravity decreased from 1.0 to 0.01 g. The boundary layer conductance to sensible heat exchange decreased by 5% when the gravity decreased from 1.0 to 0.01 g at the air velocity of 0.2 m s ¹̄. The decrease in the boundary layer conductance with decrease in the gravity levels was more significant in a lower air velocity. Heat exchange between leaves and the ambient air was more retarded at lower gravity levels because of less sensible and latent heat transfers with less heat convection.