Harvest-Time On The International Space Station
It's harvest-time on the ISS; Russian space farmers have been hard at work bringing in the crops.
(Cosmonauts have grown Japanese leafy greens and a variety of dwarf wheat)
“The experiments with peas have been very promising,” Margarita Levinskikh, a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Problems told an annual space conference in Moscow.
Russian cosmonauts have also grown Japanese leafy greens and a variety of dwarf wheat that has produced seeds of “just extraordinary quality,” she added.
Levinskikh said that next year Russian cosmonauts will sow rice, tomatoes and bell peppers after repairing the station’s Lada greenhouse, a cooperative effort between the institute and the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University.
Researchers have relied so far on analyzing root modules of the crops to verify them as safe to eat. They plan to grow rice and the grass species purple false brome, whose genomes have already been sequenced, in order to look for possible genetic abnormalities after they have grown in space.
Science fiction fans are well aware of the potential uses for plants in space, thanks in part to engineer and sf writer George O. Smith. He created the idea of "Martian sawgrass" to provide oxygen in his 1942 story QRM - Interplanetary.
Gregory Benford thought about lifezones, pod-like greenhouses that could be attached to the exterior of large space ships.
Fans of the 1972 movie Silent Running will also remember (as Winchell Chung did) that Bruce Dern took tended his garden with the help of robots.
(Gardening robots from Silent Running)
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