NASA Shares ‘Saucy Story Of Two Rogue Tomatoes’ Lost In Space
WASHINGTON, DC (IANS) – NASA has shared the “saucy story of two rogue tomatoes” that were lost aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by astronaut Frank Rubio 8 months ago, due to lack of gravity.
Rubio accidentally lost track of the tomatoes while harvesting for the exposed Root On-Orbit Test System (XROOTS) experiment he conducted aboard the space station in 2022, the US space agency said.
The fruit was found in a plastic bag dehydrated and slightly squished.
Other than some discoloration, it had no visible microbial or fungal growth.
“One small step for tomatoes, one giant leap for plant-kind,” read the post.
“Two rogue tomatoes were recovered after roaming on station for nearly a year. NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio accidentally lost the fruit while harvesting for XROOTS, a soil-less plant experiment”, it added.
Growing food is one of the many research investigations ripe for long-duration spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars. The XROOTS experiment uses hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow plants without soil or other growth media and could provide suitable solutions for plant systems needed for future space exploration missions.
While the rogue tomatoes found from the XROOTS experiment will not be returning to Earth for analysis as they were discarded, plant research aboard the space station continues with Plant Habitat-03, returning to Earth during the upcoming splashdown of SpaceX’s 29th commercial resupply mission.
Rubio, who spent a record-breaking 371-day stay aboard the ISS, also conducted another a-peeling experiment for the VEG-05 study, which helps address the need for a continuous fresh-food production system in space.
Besides advancing research, astronauts report there are psychological benefits to time spent gardening, increasing their quality of life in space, and boosting their morale.