Science

Astronauts are growing lettuce on the ISS to eat in space

Nasa wants to learn how to grow food in space to support longer missions in the future.

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An American astronaut aboard the International Space Station has tweeted a picture of his mini vegetable patch.

As part of one of the many experiments on the ISS, Scott Tingle is helping to grow several types of lettuce to see how micro gravity affects plant growth.

The lettuce looks pretty healthy, dappled in pinkish light from its growing facility, which Nasa calls “Veggie”.

As part of the experiment they’re growing red romaine lettuce (the kind you might get in a salad on earth), mizuna, also known as Japanese mustard greens, and Tokyo bekana cabbage.

The astronauts on the ISS will eventually get to eat their space-grown greens, harvesting them using the cut-and-come-again method, where the outer most leaves are picked as needed, letting the centre of the lettuce or cabbage continue to grow.

Then some samples will be frozen and sent back to earth for further experimentation.

They’ll look at what kind of bugs can grow on space veg and how growing plants affects the mood and morale of the astronauts.

As Nasa sets its sights on sending humans to Mars, space missions will get longer. Astronauts will probably have to supplement their traditional freeze dried diets with crops they’ve grown during the journey.

While room on the ISS is limited, the astronauts are focusing on doing small-scale experiments to see how well their Veggie hardware works for growing produce.

You can read more about Nasa’s Veggie experiment here.

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