The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
NASA Astronauts Grow Vegetables in Space for First Time
Goodbye freeze-dried space food. NASA's astronauts aboard the International Space Station are taking a giant leap with its menu: fresh-grown vegetables.
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) August 10, 2015
Expedition 44 crew members, including astronaut Scott Kelly who's on a special year-long mission in space, will be dining on a crop of "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce from the Veggie plant growth system that's sitting on the station itself.
Called the Veg-01, the experiment aims to "study the in-orbit function and performance of the plant growth facility and its rooting 'pillows,' which contain the seeds," according to a NASA press release.
The Veggie unit, which is expandable and collapsible, contains a light bank that features a flat panel red, blue and green LEDs for plant growth and crew observation (which explains why the plants are glowing pink in some photos). Half of the harvest, which was plucked 33 days after it was initially planted, will be eaten. The other half will be packaged and frozen on the station until it can be sent to Earth for analysis.
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) August 9, 2015
NASA said that the idea behind the out-of-this-world fare is to provide future astronauts with sustainable food supplements especially for long-distance trips, like to Mars.
"There is evidence that supports fresh foods, such as tomatoes, blueberries and red lettuce are a good source of antioxidants," said Dr. Ray Wheeler, the lead for advanced life support activities in the Surface Systems Division at the Kennedy Space Center, in a statement. "Having fresh food like these available in space could have a positive impact on people's moods and also could provide some protection against radiation in space."
Not only do the live plants provide nutrition and produce fresh air, but the act of gardening provides "a psychological boost to isolated crews hoping for something that reminds them of home," NASA also said.
— NASA (@NASA) August 10, 2015
"Besides having the ability to grow and eat fresh food in space, there also may be a psychological benefit,” said Veggie's payload scientist Dr. Gioia Massa. “The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling and psychological benefits. I think that plant systems will become important components of any long-duration exploration scenario.”
Growing food in space also has potential benefits for us Earthlings, especially in areas where conditions are not ideal for planting. As I've mentioned before, thanks to technological advancements in agriculture, plants are being grown in places where traditional farming would be impossible (and without soil, pesticides and a lot less water).
"The lessons learned on the ISS might apply to plant factories where abundant sunlight and water aren't guaranteed," NASA said. "Even if you never get to taste these otherworldly greens, you may still reap their rewards."
Check out the video below to learn about growing produce in space.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a policy memo yesterday that is an expansive relaxation of legally mandated regulations on polluting industries, saying that industries may have trouble adhering to the regulations while they are short-staffed during the coronavirus global pandemic, according to the AP.
2019 marked the fourth year in a row that the Atlantic hurricane season saw above-average activity, and it doesn't look like 2020 will provide any relief.
The deep, open ocean may seem like an inhospitable environment, but many species like human-sized Humboldt squids are well-adapted to the harsh conditions. 1,500 feet below the ocean's surface, these voracious predators could be having complex conversations by glowing and changing patterns on their skin that researchers are just beginning to decipher.
Not many restaurants will be able to survive coronavirus, and this is a personal, social and national tragedy.
I'm worried about farmers markets too.