NASA Astronauts Are Growing Space Salads Without Soil
By Mikelle Leow, 29 Jun 2022
Photo 69182731 © Sebalos | Dreamstime.com
If humans are going to live in space, we’ll have to learn to produce our own food in these trickier environments. Astronauts have been experimenting with sustainable agricultural techniques to nudge humanity closer to this future, and have grown things like space peppers and lettuce.
All these, though, require soil. If you consider the nature of this dust-like matter in microgravity, you’d be able to visualize how messy it can get. There’s also the risk of the food being contaminated. And what happens when there’s not enough soil for the rest of the mission?
NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins successfully harvested radishes and mizuna greens using an experimental system that the space agency adopted back in February. Called the eXposed Root On-Orbit Test System (XROOTS), it encompasses hydroponic and aeroponic techniques and sees through the plant’s entire life cycle, from seed to harvest.
XROOTS is made for testing various agricultural methods at any one time. It involves multiple standalone growth chambers, each holding their own plants so space crew can find ways to make crops scalable. That means more food to go around when we move into the Moon or Mars.
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