Freshly Baked Science
Save Space For Greens
12th November 2018
At the moment, astronauts have all the food they need for a full mission on board at take-off, plus an extra 3 weeks’ worth per astronaut, in case of emergency! As we begin to embark on longer journeys through space, the food requirement is going to keep on increasing. With limited room on-board, a significant increase in food requirement is going to start taking up a lot more space (if you’ll pardon the pun)! In light of this, NASA started a series of experiments to make it possible to grow vegetables in space!
Astronauts are now successfully growing red romaine lettuce, amongst other vegetables, in the International Space Station (ISS). Once the lettuce is grown, they are able to harvest it using a ‘cut-and-come-again’ method, which involves picking the outer leaves and letting the centre continue to grow. Some of these samples can be frozen and bought back down to Earth for scientific research, including at what kind of bugs can grow on space vegetables! So not only is this a great way to give astronauts something to look after and eat, but it is also a great opportunity to gain insights about the way things grow in space!
These crops will give astronauts the opportunity to live off a varied diet in space, supplementing their usual freeze-dried diet with their fresh produce, so that less food is required onboard at take-off. Keeping crew members from starving is one of the most crucial parts of missions, so with this development, the future of extended space travel is looking positive!
We’ll leave you with this question; ‘Could the ability to grow crops in space solve our issues with lack of land for crop growth on Earth?’ We’d love your opinions on this, contact us via social media (@wonkscience) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your thoughts!