NASA astronaut Kate Rubins harvested the first ever radish crop grown on the International Space Station on November 30.
The radish harvest, which the space agency described as a “historic harvest” was part of NASA’s plant experiment, Plant Habitat-02 (PH-02) that seeks to understand how plants grow in microgravity conditions, the space agency said in a press release.
The radishes were grown in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), a growth chamber for plant research. The chamber, along with its LED lights and controlled release of release fertilizer, delivers water, nutrients and oxygen to the plant roots.
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Radishes were chosen since they are fairly well understood by scientists and achieve maturity in just 27 days. The space agency also released a time-lapse video which tracked the growth of the vegetables.
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The meticulously harvested vegetables are now wrapped in foil paper and stored in cold storage to be returned to Earth in 2021 on SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission.
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This isn’t the first time that scientists have managed to cultivate plants in space. With the help of The Vegetable Production System, known as Veggie, the space station has successfully grown a variety of plants, including three types of lettuce, Chinese cabbage, mizuna mustard, red Russian kale and zinnia flowers.
The ‘space garden’ onboard the International Space Station and is to help NASA study plant growth in microgravity while adding fresh food to the astronauts’ diet and enhancing their while on-board the orbiting laboratory.