How these astronauts grew tomatoes on the ISS

How these astronauts grew tomatoes on the ISS

NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts safely returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Sunday (March 12).During their five-month mission, which commenced in October, the astronauts performed several scientific investigations, the most interesting among them being growing tomatoes in the orbiting space lab.Notably, even leafy green vegetables have been grown on the space station earlier.Here's more about the latest experiment.

Why does this story matter?

  • The ISS has been continuously occupied for over two decades now, since November 2000.
  • During their stay at the orbiting space lab, astronauts remain quite busy. They have several duties, which include overlooking the onboard science experiments.
  • While astronauts on the space station usually survive on pre-packaged meals, studies are now being carried out to provide the crew members with fresh food.

Dwarf tomato variety 'Red Robin' grown on ISS

A popular dwarf variety of cherry tomatoes, called "Red Robin," was grown in "Veggie chambers" under two different LED light conditions on the ISS.The corresponding impact on crop growth was analyzed in terms of the differences observed in fruit yield, nutritional composition, and microbial levels.Side by side, ground studies were carried out to determine the effects of spaceflight on crop growth.

Here's why study is significant

Light treatments with different red-to-blue ratios are tested for each crop grown on the ISS.The tomato-based study can "help define light colors and horticultural best practices to achieve high yields of safe, nutritious dwarf tomato fruit to supplement a space diet of pre-packaged food and to assess any psychological impacts that growing plants might have on the astronauts," said NASA in a blog.

Continue reading.

Photo: A dwarf variety of cherry tomatoes, called 'Red Robin,' was grown on the ISS (Photo credit: NASA)



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