Astronauts finally get to eat some tasty space greens, rather than just sending them back to Earth like they did last year (see NASA Harvests Lettuce On ISS).
(Tasty space lettuce!)
The astronauts will clean the leafy greens with citric acid-based, food safe sanitizing wipes before consuming them. They will eat half of the space bounty, setting aside the other half to be packaged and frozen on the station until it can be returned to Earth for scientific analysis.
NASA's plant experiment, called Veg-01, is being used to study the in-orbit function and performance of the plant growth facility and its rooting "pillows," which contain the seeds.
NASA is maturing Veggie technology aboard the space station to provide future pioneers with a sustainable food supplement – a critical part of NASA’s Journey to Mars. As NASA moves toward long-duration exploration missions farther into the solar system, Veggie will be a resource for crew food growth and consumption. It also could be used by astronauts for recreational gardening activities during deep space missions.
Time to dig in!
Generations of science fiction fans recall 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.