Some features of this site are not compatible with your browser. Install Opera Mini to better experience this site.

Earth Matters

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”:

Sunmoonplanetrise_pho_2013216_nyberg.jpg

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg took this photograph of moonrise and sunrise over Earth’s limb on August 4, 2013. In a tweet, Nyberg noted that she also saw Jupiter and Mercury as she looked out from the International Space Station, but the glare of the Sun’s light hid them in her photo.

When astronomer and Slate blogger Phil Plait fired up the image processing software on his computer down on Earth, he enhanced the brightness on Nyberg’s photo so that Jupiter and Mercury show up quite nicely. (See the enhanced image below.) Read more about the remarkable photograph on the Bad Astronomy blog.

Follow Nyberg’s Twitter and Pinterst feeds at:

https://twitter.com/AstroKarenN
http://pinterest.com/knyberg/pins/

Brightenedplanetrise_pho_2013216_nyberg_lrg.jpg