Updated 01:42 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 22, 2021

NASA: Astronauts Ate Lettuce Grown in Space

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According to National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA, on Monday, six astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS) ate lettuce that has been harvested in space.

The astronauts ate their lettuce either plain or dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. According to Astronaut Scott Kelly, the lettuce, which took one hour to harvest and prepare for consumption, tasted good and somewhat tasted like arugula.

William Jeffs, a spokesman for NASA Johnson Space Center, told USA TODAY, seeds of the red romaine seeds were planted on July 8 on board the ISS where a small greenhouse has been set using LEDs called "Veggie." The LEDs allow the plants to grow in space. 

According to Astronaut Kelly, this type of project is very important especially for long missions such as a trip to Mars and said that the ability to grow food in space enables astronauts to be self-sustaining.

According to INFOWARS NASA has for decades, been experimenting with plants to grow in space and would always send the samples back to earth.  This is the first time that astronauts were able to sample the harvests.   

Since the late 1980s research to develop a method for growing plants without soil called, aeroponic crop production went underway.  Plants grown on air usually grow three times faster than those grown on soil and require very little water and fertilizer and do not need pesticides. 

The LEDs used as lighting technology for the greenhouse utilizes very little energy on the heat, about 60 per cent less but the light that it emits adapts easily to certain plant species such as lettuce.

In line with space farming, NASA also developed a feature that will enable the plants to communicate their level of water.  Sensors were installed on the plants that uses electrical impulses to measure the thickness of the leaves indicating water content.   These sensors then would transmit the data to a computer which sends a text message when the plants need to be watered. 

The Veggie system was developed by Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wisconsin.  According to Dr. Ray Wheeler, lead for Advanced Life Support activities in the Exploration Research and Technology Programs Office at Kennedy, having fresh food available in space benefits people's moods and also could also protect them against radiation in space.

Dr. Gioia Massa, NASA's scientist for Veggie at Kennedy agrees saying that the ability to farm fresh food in space has a positive psychological effect.  Indeed the crew can get a supply of fresh food whenever the supply ship arrives but the quantity is usually limited.

Massa said that the farther and longer humans travel from Earth, the need to grow plants for food becomes more important. Aside from the psychological benefits, the nutrition, and the ability to recycle the atmosphere, the plant space systems will definitely be essential in future long explorations.

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