The dream of a living ecosystem in Space seems to be a practical reality very soon. As NASA takes a great leap in space by growing radish for the first time on the International Space Station.
The major plot of many space-based sci-fi movies such as The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon released in 2015, where the movie fictionalized a green-life in Space by growing potato plants on the surface of Mars. These fictions and speculations could be possible practicality very soon and the future of a home in space looks more promising.
With the increase in Space travel and missions, astronauts need a fresh and prominent source of food on their stay abroad. As carrying space food in the space-shuttles increases a lot of weight covering the crucial area under the vessel, looking forward to more frequent space travels, NASA is looking forward to making food available for space travellers at their destination.
In the plant experiment called Plant Habitat-02 (PH-02), NASA first time grew radish crops in space using Microgravity on the orbiting laboratory of the International Space Station. Scientists at NASA suggested radish as they are well researched and attain their maturity in just 27 days. The plant models are edible and nutritious and genetically similar to Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage that scientists researched frequently under microgravity.
“Radishes are a different kind of crop compared to leafy greens that astronauts previously grew on the space station, or dwarf wheat which was the first crop grown in the APH,” said Nicole Dufour, NASA APH program manager at Kennedy Space Center.
“Growing a range of crops helps us determine which plants thrive in microgravity and offer the best variety and nutritional balance for astronauts on long-duration missions”, Nicole added.
Kate Rubins, the NASA astronaut, and engineer harvested the radish plants growing in Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) on the International Space Station. Each of the 20 radish plants to be collected and wrapped in foil to store inside cold storage until the return trip to Earth in 2021 on SpaceX‘s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission.
Previously, NASA has grown green leafy plants under microgravity using porous clay materials with a slow-fertilizer providing LED lighting with water supply in a vegetable production system called Veggie.
NASA is looking forward to setting up a prominent fresh food supply solely in Space to ensure cutting down the weight of carrying food packages from Earth during Space missions. More consistent efforts towards a green-life in Space could be a possible lead in establishing life on the alien environment of Moon and Mars.