NASA Harvests Lettuce On ISS

ISS astronaut Steve Swanson was asked to play astronaut farmer; he is caring for a very small patch of red romaine lettuce orbiting the Earth.


(Red romaine lettuce growing in space)

On May 7, he installed NASA's new Vegetable Production System (nicknamed "VEGGIE"), which had been sent up as part of a resupply SpaceX rocket launched on April 18. Over the past month, three of the six romaine plants in the chamber have sprouted and grown successfully, and Swanson is scheduled to harvest them in one week.

He and the other astronauts in flight won't be eating these plants they'll be frozen and sent back to Earth for testing to make sure they're safe. But if all goes as planned, the experiment will lead to subsequent batches of lettuce later this year, which would be the first food NASA has ever grown in space.

Using lessons learned from the previous experiments about how plants grow in zero gravity, engineers from the private company Orbitec worked with NASA to develop the new foot-wide growth chamber.

"Getting the environment exactly right for plants to grow in space is a challenge," says Gioia Massa, NASA's lead researcher on the project. The chamber includes bright red and blue LEDs (which are externally cooled to prevent the plants from overheating) and clear, flexible walls to trap humidity inside.

At the bottom of VEGGIE is a mat for the plants' roots to take hold in with six small kevlar-lined plant "pillows" on top of it. Each of the pillows contains seeds, controlled-release fertilizer pellets, and a kitty litter-like clay mixture, designed to allow oxygen and water to reach the plants' roots as they grow.


(NASA's VEGGIE prototype)

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 may recall that Bruce Dern took tended his garden with the help of robots.


(Gardening robots from Silent Running)

Why test vegetables grown in space?

From Veggie Will Expand Fresh Food Production on Space Station .

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/7/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Food ")

Farming In Space Starts With Mycorrhiza
'The inner leaves were beginning to curl faster than the outer leaves.' - Robert Heinlein, 1949.

Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...' - Anthony Boucher, 1943

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Wound Healing With Wearable Nanogenerators
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to ... erase the other internal-external damage.'

Flying Dragon Robot Transforms In Mid-Air
Terrific prototype video.

Negative Matter Fluid Theorized In New Paper
'Of course, being negative matter, when you push it, it comes toward you..'

Grow Structures Upon Planetfall - Myco-Architecture
'They'll also start pulling in gases and liquids from the local atmosphere...'

MXene Hydrogel Skin For Robots Flexes And Senses
'The plastex swam and whirled like boiling toothpaste...'

EXPLORER, The First Total-Body Scanner
'The object is built up of an infinite series of plane layers, at the focus of the ray...'

UK Police AI To Stop Criminals Before They Strike
'... the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'

Sonitus Audio Interface Positioned Beyond The Noise
'... an instrument having relatively small bit pieces adapted to be gripped between the teeth.'

Volvo's Self-Driving Mining Trucks
'A procession of automatic ore carts was racing over the bleak slag'

Audi Pop.Up Autonomous Electric Flying Car
'The cab was an egg-shaped bubble of light metals and plastics...'

Music Not Impossible (MNI) Vibrotactile Wearable Experience
Don't you want to experience the 'feely' effects?

Chinese Face Recognition Mistakes Bus Ad For Jaywalker
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'

A Look Back At Apollo's Emergency Escape Vehicle
'A simple mechanism... it drove the iron ball through space like a ship.'

InMotion Glide 3 Electric Unicycle For The Last Mile
'...gyro-stabilized on a single wheel.'

China's Social Credit System - A Facebook-1984 Mashup
'Prestige, face, mana, repute, glory: the Sirenese word is strakh.'

Musk Declares Tesla Supercharger Capacity Will Double By Next Year
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.