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NASA astronauts grow radishes in SPACE aboard the ISS

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have added a new item to the dinner menu – radishes.

NASA astronauts recently harvested fresh radish plants from the station’s Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) and Vegetable Production System (Veggie), which use LED lights to stimulate plant growth.

Kate Rubins pulled 20 of the root vegetables from the system and meticulously wrapped each one in foil, placing them in cold storage for the return trip to Earth in 2021.

The plant experiment is part of a larger project set to help space fairing heroes grow their own food on the moon and one day Mars.

 

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins (pictured) pulled 20 of the root vegetables from the system and meticulously wrapped each one in foil, placing them in cold storage for the return trip to Earth in 2021

The experiment, called Plant Habitat-02 (PH-02), is the first time astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS) has grown radishes.

Other projects produced leafy greens such as mustard greens and red lettuce.

Radishes were chosen due to their swift ability to mature in just 27 days, making them ideal as a sustainable source of food for hungry astronauts.

Nicole Dufour, NASA APH program manager at Kennedy Space Center, said: ‘Radishes are a different kind of crop compared to leafy greens that astronauts previously grew on the space station.’

NASA astronauts recently harvested fresh radish plants from the station's Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) and Vegetable Production System (Veggie), which use LED lights to stimulate plant growth

NASA astronauts recently harvested fresh radish plants from the station’s Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) and Vegetable Production System (Veggie), which use LED lights to stimulate plant growth

‘Growing a range of crops helps us determine which plants thrive in microgravity and offer the best variety and nutritional balance for astronauts on long-duration missions.’

Along with providing crew members with a new food to enjoy, the experiment also allows NASA to identify the optimum balance of care and feeding needed to produce quality plants.

And they found the root vegetables required little maintenance.

The systems, APH and Veggie, use red, blue, green and broad-spectrum white LED lights to grow plants inside a sealed chamber.

Sophisticated control systems deliver water, while control cameras and more than 180 sensors in the chamber allow researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to monitor the plant growth as well as regulate moisture levels, temperature, and carbon dioxide concentration.

Karl Hasenstein, a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who has conducted plant experiments with NASA since 1995, said: ‘

‘Radishes provide great research possibilities by virtue of their sensitive bulb formation,’ Hasenstein said. 

‘We can grow 20 plants in the APH, analyze CO2 effects, and mineral acquisition and distribution.’

The team has set up a control population of plants in the ground control plant habitat unit in the International Space Station Environmental Simulator (ISSES) chamber inside Kennedy’s Space Station Processing Facility.  

Radishes have been growing under nearly the same conditions in the ISSES, as on the ISS, since November 17.

The experiment, called Plant Habitat-02 (PH-02), is the first time astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS) has grown radishes. Radishes were chosen due to their swift ability to mature in just 27 days, making them ideal as a sustainable source of food for hungry astronauts

The experiment, called Plant Habitat-02 (PH-02), is the first time astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS) has grown radishes. Radishes were chosen due to their swift ability to mature in just 27 days, making them ideal as a sustainable source of food for hungry astronauts

Sophisticated control systems deliver water, while control cameras and more than 180 sensors in the chamber allow researchers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to monitor the plant growth as well as regulate moisture levels, temperature, and carbon dioxide concentration

Sophisticated control systems deliver water, while control cameras and more than 180 sensors in the chamber allow researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to monitor the plant growth as well as regulate moisture levels, temperature, and carbon dioxide concentration

Researchers on the ground plan to harvest their control crop December 15 and will compare them with those grown on station.

This historic harvest does not mean the experiment is over, Dufour added.

‘The APH has two science carriers, so shortly after the first harvest, the second carrier will be used to repeat the experiment by planting another set of radish seeds,’ she said. 

‘Replicating the plant experiment increases the sample size and improves scientific accuracy.’

‘With plans to explore the Moon and someday Mars, NASA knows astronauts will need to grow their own food to support long-duration missions far from home,’ NASA shared in a statement.

‘As part of the Artemis program, NASA plans to establish sustainable exploration on and around the Moon by the end of the decade.’

EXPLAINED: THE $100 BILLION INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION SITS 250 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH

The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000. 

Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.

ISS studies have investigated human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.

The US space agency, Nasa, spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, a level of funding that is endorsed by the Trump administration and Congress.

A U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees Nasa has begun looking at whether to extend the program beyond 2024.

Alternatively the money could be used to speed up planned human space initiatives to the moon and Mars.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk