• Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

As space agencies aim for deep space human exploration in their future missions, major research is being done towards establishing a proper food source for the astronauts expected to live in space during the mission course. In the latest development towards t…

Mar 8, 2021

As space agencies aim for deep space human exploration in their future missions, major research is being done towards establishing a proper food source for the astronauts expected to live in space during the mission course. 
In the latest development towards this pursuit, NASA scientists have managed to grow radishes under microgravity.
Crop of radishes being grown aboard the ISS (Image: NASA)
Scientists aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have been conducting research on plant growth in microgravity in Europes Columbus module. As a part of this, the scientists have now grown a batch of radish inside the Advanced Plant Habitat, a self-contained growth chamber requiring little to no human intervention, aboard the ISS.
The Advanced Plant Habitat that enabled the growth of the plants in the absence of gravity is equipped with LED lights, porous clay and over 180 sensors and cameras. Through these, the plant growth is monitored and conditions adjusted by researchers at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. These adjustments include the distribution of water and fertilizer, moisture and temperature levels control.
A recent release by ESA explains that in the lack of gravity, the plants were first seeded in pillows that help distribute fertilizer and water evenly to the roots. The approach to grow the plants after seeding had also been fine tuned, as European research showed plants respond best to red and blue light. This gave the Columbus module a disco feel, reads the release.
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins poses next to radish crop. (Image: ESA/ NASA)
The release also mentions that the researchers chose radishes for the experiment because it is a model plant. 
Radishes are similar to Arabidopsis, the plant most frequently studied in space. In addition to this, they have a short cultivation period and are edible and nutritious as soon as they are harvested. The current batch of space-grown radishes will be ready for harvest any day now, samples of which will be sent back to Earth for study.