NASA astronaut Kate Rubins harvested the first radishes grown aboard the International Space Station, as part of the Plant Habitat-02 experiment.
The experiment, which is part of the ongoing efforts to produce food in space with the aim of supplying the crew during long missions, proved that radishes are capable of growing under different types of light and soils. The experiment was carried out with radishes because they are a nutritious food that grows quickly and are genetically similar to Arabidopsis, a type of herbaceous plant that has been the subject of frequent studies in microgravity.
"Radishes are a different type of crop compared to the leafy vegetables that astronauts previously grew on the space station, or the dwarf wheat that was the first crop grown at the APH," stated Nicole Dufour, manager of NASA's Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) program at Kennedy Space Center. "Growing a variety of products helps us determine which plants thrive in microgravity and offer the best variety and nutritional balance for astronauts on long-duration missions."
Unlike previous experiments in NASA's APH and Plant Production System (Veggie), which used porous clay material preloaded with a slow-release fertilizer, this trial was based on precisely defined amounts of provided minerals. This precision allows a better comparison of the nutrients provided and absorbed by plants.
The grow chamber also uses broad-spectrum red, blue, green, and white LEDs to provide a variety of light and stimulate plant growth. Researchers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center can monitor the plants' growth thanks to the sophisticated controls and more than 180 sensors that the chamber where the plants are grown have, which allow them to regulate the room's water supply, humidity, temperature, and carbon dioxide concentration levels. (CO₂).
The following video released by NASA shows the accelerated 27-day growth process of radish plants on the space station.
Source: Europa Press / lasprovincias.es