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Earth Matters

Salad Days on the International Space Station

May 15th, 2017 by Pola Lem

Watch out, master gardeners: There’s competition up above.

Scientists have made marked developments in growing vegetables in space this spring. Researchers based at Kennedy Space Center have been working with a team from the University of Arizona to create a prototype lunar/Mars greenhouse. The cylindrical, inflatable chamber measures 18 feet long and 8 feet in diameter. It recycles waste and water from astronauts, and uses carbon dioxide they exhale.

Growing edible plants in space will allow humans to venture farther beyond our home planet, said Ray Wheeler, lead scientist for Kennedy Advanced Life Support Research. “The greenhouses provide a more autonomous approach to long-term exploration on the Moon, Mars and beyond,” he said.

Image by University of Arizona.

In other space veggie tales…

Last month, perhaps the most-watched cabbage in the world—technically speaking, in Earth orbit—sprouted. Two tiny shoots of the Tokyo Bekana Chinese cabbage poked out of their specially-designed plant pillow. The pillow acts like a miniature plant bed, providing nutrients without the mess of dirt careening through space.

The cabbage is but the most recent crop on the ISS. The crew’s first harvest of space veggies from the Veg-01 experiment took place in 2015. However, flower-raising efforts have encountered a few more obstacles, including the formation of mold.

Scott Kelly with romaine lettuce. Image by NASA.

To learn more, check out this video, aptly titled “Lettuce Look at Veggie”:

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One Response to “Salad Days on the International Space Station”

  1. Angelina says:

    Why wouldn’t they just take food with them then leave it for the astronauts