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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.
BlueNalu Yellowtail Might Be Your First Lab-Grown Meat
Vat-grown nigiri sushi?
Beijing HaiDiLao Robotic Hotpot Restaurant Now Flavored By Artificial Intelligence
'Kantos Kan led me to one of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus.' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912.
Plants of the Future - What Should They Be Like
'He almost choked in his astonishment. Mashed potatoes and brown gravy!' - Robert Heinlein, 1941.
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.
DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?
BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'
Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.
IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'
Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?
PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'
Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.
Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'
Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room — set up.'
Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'
Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'
3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'
Comercial Airlock 'Bishop' Now On ISS
'They put the bones and the glass can that had contained the soup into the double-doored partition or vestibule...'
Space Station Could Use Some Martian Sawgrass
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?'
ARTUu AI Copilot For USAF
'A series of short beep's and chirps issued from his speaker...'
Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories