NASA Harvests Lettuce On ISS
ISS astronaut Steve Swanson was asked to play astronaut farmer; he is caring for a very small patch of red romaine lettuce orbiting the Earth.
(Red romaine lettuce growing in space)
On May 7, he installed NASA's new Vegetable Production System (nicknamed "VEGGIE"), which had been sent up as part of a resupply SpaceX rocket launched on April 18. Over the past month, three of the six romaine plants in the chamber have sprouted and grown successfully, and Swanson is scheduled to harvest them in one week.
He and the other astronauts in flight won't be eating these plants — they'll be frozen and sent back to Earth for testing to make sure they're safe. But if all goes as planned, the experiment will lead to subsequent batches of lettuce later this year, which would be the first food NASA has ever grown in space.
Using lessons learned from the previous experiments about how plants grow in zero gravity, engineers from the private company Orbitec worked with NASA to develop the new foot-wide growth chamber.
"Getting the environment exactly right for plants to grow in space is a challenge," says Gioia Massa, NASA's lead researcher on the project. The chamber includes bright red and blue LEDs (which are externally cooled to prevent the plants from overheating) and clear, flexible walls to trap humidity inside.
At the bottom of VEGGIE is a mat — for the plants' roots to take hold in — with six small kevlar-lined plant "pillows" on top of it. Each of the pillows contains seeds, controlled-release fertilizer pellets, and a kitty litter-like clay mixture, designed to allow oxygen and water to reach the plants' roots as they grow.
(NASA's VEGGIE prototype)
Science fiction fans are well aware of the potential uses for plants in space, thanks in part to engineer and sf writer George O. Smith. He created the idea of "Martian sawgrass" to provide oxygen in his 1942 story QRM - Interplanetary.
Gregory Benford thought about lifezones, pod-like greenhouses that could be attached to the exterior of large space ships.
Fans of the 1972 movie Silent Running may recall that Bruce Dern took tended his garden with the help of robots.
(Gardening robots from Silent Running)
Why test vegetables grown in space?
From Veggie Will Expand Fresh Food Production on Space Station .
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/7/2014)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Tomatoes From Sun And Seawater
'Hydroponics. Gotta almost do it, if I'm going way out to Mars without much supplies.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1961.
In Vitro Meatballs For SciFi Spaghetti
'Large laboratories in every city had produced synthetic food and meats, grown in large test tubes..." - David H. Keller, 1933.
7-Eleven Drone Delivers Chix Sandwich And Slurpee
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'- H. Beam Piper, 1962.
SuperMeat - Crowdfunding Pohl/Kornbluth's Chicken Little
'Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America.' - Pohl and Kornbluth, 1952.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!
Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'
Robotic Physician Assistant Has Steady 'Hands'
'You turned the screws below and the prongs moved... with caliper slowness, minuteness and precision.'
Roboy 3DPrinted Humanoid Robot
'A robot child that would be reared within the bosom of a human family...'
Robird Flapping Wing Drones Keep Airports Safe
'Mitch heard a rasping, flacketing buzz, like a big insect...'
3D Printed Fashion - Plastirobes And Transdresses
'... dial a new fashion every day!'
Robotic Lawn Mower Powered By Sun, Arduino
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'
Google Perfects 'Blade Runner-style' Photo Details
'Pull back... stop... enhance 57-19...'
Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!'
Otto Autonomous Robot Trucks Run Into... Legal Snag
'They were automatic trucks such as are used for making deliveries...'
Tiny Drones With Sticky Feet Pollinate Flowers Now
'The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together...'
ThreeForm 3D Scans And Digitally Simulates Customer Fashion
'...A miracle of misapplied engineering caused his own face to appear on the illustrated figures dressed in trooper red.'
CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
'That moisture trickles down...'
Piaggio Gita Personal Robot Porter
'Carry his bag... and follow him faithfully...'
Ardu McDuino, Bagpipe Robot
'Rollo sat at the keyboard, prim, inhuman, rigid, twin lenses focused...'
Not Quite Self-Replicating Robots, Franka Emika
'... it shares with mankind the ability to propagate.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories