Space-grown lettuce to give astronauts a more varied diet

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The Veggie system will allow astronauts to securely grow fresh, healthy greens and fresh food

Experiencing weightlessness, looking back at the Earth as a pale blue dot and the adrenaline rush of being moved into orbit at 20,000 miles per hour: life as an astronaut has numerous distinct tourist attractions.

The food is not amongst them, with area visitors throughout the years withstanding specials such as freeze-dried ice-cream, liquid salt and pepper, and dehydrated prawn mixed drink. The menu is now set to be broadened, with the very first space-grown lettuce having actually been discovered to be as safe, tasty and healthy as the Earth-grown range.

Gioia Massa of Nasa Kennedy Space Center, the lead researcher on the lettuce-growing task , stated that growing food in area might be important for astronauts on long-duration objectives such as Artemis III , set up to land people on the lunar south pole by 2024, and Nasa’s very first crewed objective to Mars , prepared for the late 2020s.

“If you keep packaged food for a long period of time the quality, flavour and dietary quality decline, the vitamins deteriorate,” she stated. “We can’t ensure that they’re going to get enough nutrition today.”

She included: “There might likewise be mental advantages of looking and growing plants after plants.”

Space food is stated to have actually enhanced recently– anything sent out to the International Space Station (ISS) needs to score a 6 or above on a one-to-nine taste scale where one is “the worst thing you’ve ever tasted”. Even so, astronauts can grow tired out of consuming the exact same old vacuum-packed meals.

“There’s some weight-loss in much of the astronauts,” stated Massa.

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grown in the vegetable planting system on the worldwide spaceport station.”src=”″/> A crop of’Outredgeous’red romaine lettuce grown in the Veggie planting system on the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

Lettuce was grown in batches onboard the ISS in between 2014-16 . The veggie production system– called Veggie — consisted of plant pillows (sealed systems consisting of ceramic soil), LED lighting and a watering system that included astronauts injecting water through a tube.

The lettuce crops grew undisturbed for 33 to 56 days prior to being collected and consumed, or deep-frozen and went back to Earth for chemical and biological analysis. Astronauts rubbed the leaves with sanitised wipes prior to consuming. “We do not wish to get anybody ill. That’s why we’re doing all this,” stated Massa.

The space-grown lettuce was comparable in structure to Earth-grown controls, and some plants were even richer in aspects such as potassium, salt, sulphur, zinc and phosphorus. They had greater levels of germs, potentially due to their growing in a warmer, more closed-air and damp system, however were not discovered to bring any unsafe germs such as coliform E coli or salmonella. The findings of the task are released in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science .

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