Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

NASA Astronauts Grow Vegetables in Space for First Time

Food

Goodbye freeze-dried space food. NASA's astronauts aboard the International Space Station are taking a giant leap with its menu: fresh-grown vegetables.

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.

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.

Read page 1

"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.

"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

NASA: ‘If You See One Meteor Shower This Year, Make It the Perseids’

NASA Captures ‘EPIC’ Image of the Dark Side of the Moon

Epic Video Narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains the Universe in 8 Minutes

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Zak Smith

It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Hector Chapa

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.

But can these masks be effective?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.

Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.

Read More Show Less
In Germany's Hunsrück village of Schorbach, numerous photovoltaic systems are installed on house roofs, on Sept. 19, 2019. Thomas Frey / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.

Read More Show Less