Astronauts eat lettuce from space


NASA’s Veggie project allows astronauts to consume fresh produce.

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BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

It may not pair well with Tang, but NASA’s Veggie project is allowing astronauts to consume fresh produce in space. 

Astronauts at the International Space Station ate a meal Monday that included red romaine lettuce that was grown out of this world.

“It’s just one of those things that we have to learn if we’re going to step into the solar system and go to Mars,” says Trent Smith, the Veggie project manager. “How will you grow your plants?”

It turns out, farming in space is not as simple as you’d think. First, there’s the problem of water. On Earth, gravity pulls it down toward the roots, but in space, it can ball up in the corner of a pot and leave the roots high and dry. Smith’s team has developed a solution: a “pillow” of aerated clay, to which you add water. The clay provides structure for the roots to spread out in zero G.

(SOURCE: OPB)

NASA replicated an environment with fresh air and light to allow the plants to flourish in an environment devoid of those elements.

stronauts must grow the plant in rooting “pillows” containing the seeds. They are grown in a unit with a flat panel that gives off red, blue and green lights using LEDs — which are responsible for the plants purple hue.

The lettuce that the astronauts will eat Monday is the second batch grown on the space station. The first was sent back down to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in October of last year, where it was analyzed for safety. Scientists at Kennedy gave the produce a thumbs up, and a second batch of lettuce was activated in July.

(SOURCE: Washington Post)

As technology advances, innovators are finding ways to grow food in increasingly creative methods.

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