NASA experiments with growing vegetables in space

Saturday, 24 May 2014 - 9:51am IST | Agency: dna webdesk

  • Astronaut Steve Swanson aboard the ISS tending to the 'Veggie' (Picture souce: NASA Instagram)

In its most latest innovation, the US space agency NASA has started an experiment to grow vegeables on the International Space Station (ISS).

Dubbed as the Vegetable Production System, called 'Veggie' for short, is a plant growing unit that can be deployed on the ISS allowing the inhabitants to produce their own organic food. NASA shared pictures of project, that was kicked off on May 8, on thier social media platforms

"Veggie is a new investigation with 'edible results' on the space station," NASA posted on Instagram. "Veggie is a deployable plant growth unit capable of producing salad-type crops to provide the crew with appetising, nutritious and safe fresh food," they explained. 

It is basically a low-cost plant growth chamber that uses a flat-panel light bank that includes red, blue and green LEDs for plant growth and crew observation, NASA explains on their website. "The plant growth chamber may help expand in-orbit food production capabilities in more ways than one, and offer astronauts something they don’t take for granted, fresh food."

The Veggie provides lighting and nutrient delivery, but utilises the cabin environment for temperature control and as a source of carbon dioxide to promote growth. “Veggie will provide a new resource for US astronauts and researchers as we begin to develop the capabilities of growing fresh produce and other large plants on the space station,” said Gioia Massa, NASA payload scientist for Veggie.

Another picture shared by the space agency shows astronaut Steve Swanson aboard the ISS tending to the 'Veggie', captioned “Getting a tan while growing lettuce”

And here's how the space grown lettuce looks like:

(A 28-day-old Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plant grows in a prototype v flight pillow. US astronauts living and working aboard the International Space Station are going to receive a newly developed Vegetable Production System Veggie. Image Credit: NASA/Gioia Massa)

Once perfected, the technology will pave the way for plant growth research in space. But for now, it seems to provide the men and women in space with alternate means of relaxation and recreation.

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