NASA astronaut Kate Rubins has joined a proud lineage of space gardeners. She harvested the first ever radish crop grown on the International Space Station on Nov. 30, and NASA described it as a “historic harvest.”
Astronauts have previously grown a variety of veggies, including, cabbage, mustard and kale. While some of these ended up on the menu, many were sent back to Earth for analysis. That’s what’s happening with the 20 radishes collected by Rubins.
The plants are part of an experiment called Plant Habitat-02 (PH-02). “Growing a range of crops helps us determine which plants thrive in microgravity and offer the best variety and nutritional balance for astronauts on long-duration missions,” plant habitat program manager Nicole Dufour said in a NASA statement on Wednesday.
It took 27 days for the plants to reach maturity. NASA compiled their growth into a short time-lapse video.
The foil-wrapped space radishes are now sitting in cold storage awaiting a trip to Earth next year. The Advanced Plant Habitat team down on Earth has been growing a control crop for comparison. Next up is another ISS crop starting from seed.
The plant experiments are aimed at one day providing fresh eats for astronauts headed to the moon and Mars. No one wants to live off freeze-dried food for months or years at a time, so researchers are looking into everything fromto made from human waste.
A fresh space salad with sliced radishes would be a delicacy on Mars.