NASA to grow a lettuce in space

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NASA are attempting to grow a salad on th eInternational Space Station this week.

A portable greenhouse to grow lettuces was taken to the Space Station last week.

Until now, all supplies have been delivered from Earth so this is the first time NASA are attempting to grow food for their astronauts up in space.

The main obstacle to growing plants in space is the lack of gravity, since the soil tends to float away.

NASA’s solution has been to design a small bag that tightly contains all the soil.  The space agency calls these “plant pillows”.

Three plant pillows have been taken up to the ISS and will be sown in succession. Two hold seeds for a variety of red romaine lettuce called Outredgeous. The third contains zinnia, to add a splash of colour to the space station.

Watering plants is especially difficult in weightlessness. Instead of draining away, the water pools around the roots.

No matter how good the first crop is the astronauts will freeze the lettuces and send them back to Earth for analysis in August.

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