Red, small and tasty: astronauts on the ISS began to grow new food
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Astronauts can now diversify their diet, and this opens up the possibility of expanding the range of agricultural research for use in future distant missions.
Related video < p>Astronauts do a lot of research on the ISS, and the study of plant behavior in space stands out among them. As part of such experiments in orbit, astronauts grow different plants that they use for food. A new experiment is to grow dwarf tomatoes, writes Futurism.
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NASA has been engaged in space agriculture for many years, or rather crop production, because growing plants on the ISS is one of the priorities of the space agency. Ultimately, NASA wants to move from simple experiments with plants to growing plant-based food all the time in space, which is especially important for providing astronauts with food on future distant space missions.
A few days ago, ISS astronauts began a new phase of their research in which they grow and harvest plant foods. The new stage involves the cultivation of dwarf tomatoes.
“Astronauts will study how light affects the growth of tomatoes in space, how well they will grow, how tasty and nutritious they will be. Of course, the experiment will study the effect of eating these tomatoes on the health of the crew. These data are very important for future distant space missions,” says NASA's Joya Massa.
The astronauts will grow tomatoes in a special vegetable growing facility where they grew some of their food. This installation is not something big and resembles a travel suitcase in size. Nevertheless, this did not prevent the ISS crew from successfully growing lettuce, cabbage, peppers, and even flowers. Now astronauts may be able to make their own salads with farmed tomatoes.
Cultivation of tomatoes is a new stage in agricultural research, scientists say, and tomatoes may be more satisfying than the previous set of plants. According to Mass, these tomatoes can even be eaten fresh.
An important component of the new experiment will be to control not only the quality of tomatoes, but their taste.
“When you are farther from home than anyone else on the planet for months, most likely you will want to eat something delicious, not just useful,” says Massa.
It will be some time before new space stations, or colonies on the Moon or Mars, have real plant farms. But vegetable-growing experiments on the ISS are critical to achieving that goal.
NASA believes the ability to grow their own food in space will make astronauts more self-sufficient. This is very important, especially in anticipation of the return of a man to the Moon in the coming years and the creation of a permanent lunar base by the end of the 2020s. According to scientists, the delivery of food to the moon will be an expensive event, so everything must be done so that the astronauts can provide themselves with food as much as possible.
Focus has already written about which base on the moon plans to build NASA, and for its construction will use lunar rocks.