Strange as it may sound, the ISS now has space-grown lettuce for the astronauts on board. This plant has been planted no more than a month ago, and is now almost ready for harvest – the first ever harvest that is made in space. Whew, that does sound impressive.
Before you ask, no, the astronauts on the space station have not forsaken their noble scientific missions to take on a simple life of gardening and staring at the Earth through their windows. Well, in a way, they have taken up gardening, space-gardening to be precise.
It’s all part of a larger NASA project to enable astronauts to stop relying on the supplies from Earth. With all those supply ship accidents happening recently, there may come a time when the space station will be undersupplied. Although we and everyone there at NASA as well as Roscosmos and other space agencies hope that this will never be the case, the astronauts can just sit back and eat their collard greens. Well, not exactly.
There is a slight coloration problem that might occur in the plants. The systems that are used on the space station to grow stuff are called Veggie, and they are designed to offer a plant almost all the conditions that they would have on Earth. And the most they need is light. Though, for unknown reasons, the light banks are designed with only three colors. Red, green, and blue.
As you can probably make out, that is not a rainbow. It’s not a problem of LGBT discrimination, mind you, they did not use the full spectrum of colors since plants don’t seem to need all white light. Okay, that did not come out right. But you get the point.
The red and blue lights are the most important parts of said spectrum. They are the ones that ensure that photosynthesis takes place. The scientists still added green, which essentially does nothing for the plants except color them in a friendlier manner.
Would you eat weird looking purple space lettuce?
However, Veg-01, the bank that contains the lettuce, will still produce plants that are a bit… odd, seeing as the full spectrum of white light is not satisfied.
Expedition 44, the current people on board the ISS, are really looking forward to the moment they will taste their crops. They have been excited to work with the device, as the ones that made them are pointing out, as they create a distraction from all the sciency stuff on board the spacecraft.
The lettuce was planted by NASA’s Scot Kelly back on July 8nd. 33 days in, and they will be ready. You may remember Kelly as the first man to spend a year in space. If his mission is successful, these Veggie pods could soon be the main source of food for the guys who will land on Mars. Exciting news, isn’t it?
Image source: space.com