For the first time ever, food that was grown in space will actually be consumed by astronauts this week. The crew of “Expedition 44” will have the option of eating fresh fruits and vegetables while at the international space station, starting today. The food is produced at the “Veggie” plant growth station, which is an orbiting laboratory in space that grows crops.
This project will eventually allow astronauts to travel farther into space without needing supplies, and could be a vital part of future missions to Mars.
Dr. Gioia Massa, one of the scientists that work with Veggie, said that this project and others like it will be vital for long-term space travel in the future.
“The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling, and psychological benefits. I think that plant systems will become important components of any long-duration exploration scenario,” Massa said in a recent statement.
“We hope to increase the amount and type of crop in the future, and this will allow us to learn more about growing plants in microgravity. We have upcoming experiments that will look at the impacts of light quality on crop yield, nutrition, and flavor, both on Earth and in space,” Massa added.
Dr. Ray Wheeler, a lead researcher for Advanced Life Support activities in the Exploration Research and Technology Programs Office at Kennedy Space Center, explained that different colored LED lights are used to grow the food.
“Blue and red wavelengths are the minimum needed to get good plant growth. They are probably the most efficient in terms of electrical power conversion. The green LEDs help to enhance the human visual perception of the plants, but they don’t put out as much light as the reds and blues,” Wheeler explained.
“There is evidence that supports fresh foods, such as tomatoes, blueberries, and red lettuce are a good source of antioxidants. Having fresh food like these available in space could have a positive impact on people’s moods and also could provide some protection against radiation in space,” he added.
This project has not only been sanctioned by NASA but has also been working in conjunction with SpaceX, one of the private space travel companies that will hopefully overtake and replace NASA.
John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter-culture and the drug war.
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