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NASA to grow lettuce in space


Posted on Sunday, 15 September, 2013 | Comment icon 20 comments

Hydroponics could be the key to sustainable food supplies in space. Image Credit: NASA/KSC
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will soon be attempting to grow their own vegetables.
Traditionally any food consumed in space has to be pre-packaged and sent up from the Earth, an arrangement that works fine for astronauts living and working on the space station, but what about on a manned mission to Mars ? On voyages that could take months or even years, carrying enough food to last the whole journey becomes increasingly impractical.

To address this problem, scientists have long been considering ways for astronauts to grow their own food in space. Beginning this year, astronauts on the space station will be carrying out an experiment in which they will try to harvest a plot of lettuces using a special plant growing platform known as "Veggie".

"The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) is a deployable plant growth unit capable of producing salad-type crops to provide the crew with a palatable, nutritious, and safe source of fresh food and a tool to support relaxation and recreation," the space agency wrote on its website.

Source: Houston Chronicle | Comments (20)

Tags: NASA, ISS, Hydroponics

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by Frank Merton on 15 September, 2013, 21:43
Yea -- until a satellite large enough to be able to generate spin "gravity" (like the one in the space odyssey 2001) is in place I don't think either humans or other terrestrial life will do well up there long term. Life on the earth evolved for life on the earth.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 September, 2013, 22:11
I don't think either humans or other terrestrial life will do well up there long term. This may not necessarily be true in all cases. In a NASA sponsored experiment on board the Russian Mir space station back in 1997 adzuki bean seeds and seedlings grew more in space than the control plants on Earth. Source: HERE.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Sundew on 15 September, 2013, 22:19
A lot more difficult than growing plants on Earth. You point out the issue with gravity, but this is much more problematic than just the direction of growth. Plants use gravity for some of their nutrient transport systems, and esp for the transport of carbohydrates manufactured in the leaves to other parts of the plant. Seems like a rotating drum with lights at the center hub could simulate gravity.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Frank Merton on 15 September, 2013, 22:34
Seems like a rotating drum with lights at the center hub could simulate gravity. That's what I was talking about
Comment icon #15 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 September, 2013, 22:48
Plants use gravity for some of their nutrient transport systems, and esp for the transport of carbohydrates manufactured in the leaves to other parts of the plant. Which is why such experiments are needed. Plant growth experiments on board the ISS have shown that plants grow quite well without gravity. Source: HERE. More on edible crops grown aboard the ISS (from June 2010) HERE. Seems like a rotating drum with lights at the center hub could simulate gravity. Such a set-up may not be necessary (see links above).
Comment icon #16 Posted by calaf on 16 September, 2013, 22:25
Did they think to bring along salad dressing? Plain lettuce and Tang doesn't work for me.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Frank Merton on 16 September, 2013, 22:34
Gravity is probably not the only factor causing plants to have trouble in space.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 16 September, 2013, 22:44
Gravity is probably not the only factor causing plants to have trouble in space. Well there is the thing, many plants don't seem to have problems growing in space. One of the biggest issues is designing systems which keep the plants watered without gravity. It is as much a technological issue as it is botanical one.
Comment icon #19 Posted by jesspy on 17 September, 2013, 11:13
See when I read the title I imagined bunches of lettuce growing in space space. Like Lettuce orbiting outside the space station or something and the astronauts space walk out to the floating lettuce plants and other vegetables to water them lol If a plant could grow in space space, if had all the water and nutrients it needed but no gravity would they grow really big and spread out?
Comment icon #20 Posted by Aggie on 17 September, 2013, 12:16
See when I read the title I imagined bunches of lettuce growing in space space. Like Lettuce orbiting outside the space station or something and the astronauts space walk out to the floating lettuce plants and other vegetables to water them lol ^^^ LOL


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