Astronauts are now able to eat lettuce in space.
Experiments with fast-growing lettuce have found to be safe, nutritious and eatable. Apparently, just as good as their earth-grown variety.
Gioia Massa of Nasa Kennedy Space Center, the lead scientist on the lettuce-growing project, said that growing food in space could be crucial for astronauts on long missions.
One of these missions is the Artemis III, scheduled to land humans on the lunar south pole by 2024, and NASA’s first crewed mission to Mars planned for the late 2020s.
As part of the experiments, lettuce was grown in batches onboard the ISS between 2014-16. The vegetable production system had plants under LED lighting and a watering system that involved astronauts injecting water through a tube.
The lettuce crops grew undisturbed for 33 to 56 days before being harvested and eaten. Some of them were deep-frozen and returned to Earth for chemical and biological analysis.
Nasa is now expanding the range of produce grown onboard the ISS.
Plans are for pak choi, dragoon lettuce, wasabi mustard and red Russian kale to be grown later this year, as well as tomatoes and peppers.