NASA Astronauts to Grow Lettuce in Space [VIDEO]
By Parismita Goswami | April 16, 2014 5:12 PM EST
Now, astronauts longing for foods like lettuce, will soon have an opportunity to grow it their own in space. NASA has sent a small farm to the International Space Station with its Dragon cargo mission that was launched by SpaceX, the private spaceflight company, on Monday 14 April 2014.
Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plants grow inside a prototype Vegetable Production System (Veggie). Veggie will grow safe, fresh plants for food and provide recreational activity to crew aboard the International Space Station (NASA/Gioia Massa)
The capsule carries a small plant growth chamber for astronauts to grow outredgeous lettuce while in orbit.
The lettuce plant is grown in a chamber nicknamed 'Veggie' and is an experiment to find how well does plants grow in space. The 'Veggie' plant chamber measures 1.5 feet long and is the biggest plant chamber in space.
"Veggie will provide a new resource for the U.S. astronauts and researchers, as we begin to develop the capabilities of growing fresh produce and other large plants on the space station. Determining food safety is one of our primary goals for this validation test." Gioia Massa, NASA payload scientist for Veggie, said in a statement, according to Space.com
NASA has tested a version of the chamber on the ground at Kennedy Space Center's space life sciences laboratory with lettuces and radishes, which successfully grew. 'Veggie' was developed by Madison, Wisconsin based Orbital Technologies Corporation.
The experiment emphasizes on focusing to human habitability in space as growing food in space may greatly help astronauts during long-duration spaceflight. Moreover, 'Veggie' can support in studies related to plant sense and their gravitational response. The plants will be harvested by astronauts for further investigation, according to NASA.
The chamber that the lettuce is intended to grow in is build to collapse for storage and transportation. Scientists hope to expand the number of plants with different varieties, if the early tests go well.
Check for the 'Veggie' video here.
Photo credit: NASA/Gioia Massa
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