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NASA grows chili peppers in space

CBS News

Outer space is becoming more spicy thanks to the new NASA initiative to add a little more flavor to astronauts’ diets.

NASA Announcement Last week, astronauts on board the International Space Station were growing red and green chili peppers for the first time. Thanks to SpaceX, Hatch Chili Pepper Seeds arrived at the station in June. Commercial replenishmenty Service mission.

NASA astronaut Shane KimbroLaunched on the ISS in April, it has begun an experiment named Plant Habitat-04 (PH-04). He used to grow plants in orbiting laboratories and ate “ridiculous” red romaine lettuce in 2016.

A team of researchers at the Kennedy Space Center planted 48 seeds in a device called a scientific carrier. This device contains clay for root growth and a specially formulated sustained release fertilizer.Device slots in Advanced plant habitat, One of the three plant growth chambers on board.

“APH is the largest plant growth facility on the space station, with 180 sensors and controls to monitor plant growth and the environment,” said project manager Nicole Dufour. “This is a diverse growth chamber that helps control experiments from Kennedy and reduces the time astronauts take care of their crops.”

Peppers grow in about four months before they can be harvested and eaten. This is the first time an astronaut has cultivated peppers at a station from seed to maturity. If the data show that pepper is safe, the crew will eat some of them and send the rest back to Earth for analysis.

“This is one of the most complex plant experiments to date at the station because it takes time to germinate and grow,” said Principal Investigator Matt Romeyn. “Astronauts need to pollinate peppers to grow fruit, so we have previously tested flowering to increase the chances of a successful harvest.”

astronaut Grow the first flower At the 2015 and 2016 ISS, it was the predecessor of flowering crops, such as bell peppers, that bear fruit for a longer period of time. NuMex’s “Española Improved” pepper, a hybrid hatch pepper, was chosen after more than two years of research into dozens of different types of pepper in search of the perfect space crop.

“The challenge is the ability to feed the crew in low earth orbit and retain explorers during future missions beyond low earth orbit to destinations, including the Moon, and ultimately to Mars, as part of the Artemis program.” Said Lomin. “We are limited to crops that do not require storage or extensive processing.”

Pepper will be harvested on January 15, 2020 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center space station processing facility in Florida and will be evaluated for growth in preparation for being sent into space.
NASA / BEN SMEGEL SKY

Scientists hope that this crop will help astronauts supplement their diet and provide the long-awaited vitamin C and other nutrients in future missions. In addition, living in a micro-gravity environment can cause astronauts to lose some of their taste and smell, increasing the demand for spicy and seasoned foods.

“Growing colorful vegetables in space can have long-term benefits to physical and mental health,” Romin said. “We have found that growing colored and scented plants and vegetables can improve the health of astronauts.”

Researchers monitor the growth of bell peppers and compare them to controls on Earth. They plan to collect crew feedback on the flavor and texture of pepper, as well as the Scoville Unit.

“The spiciness of pepper depends on the growth conditions of the environment. The combination of microgravity, light quality, temperature and root water content all affect the flavor, so how the fruit grows, ripens and tastes. It would be interesting to know, “said team leader Rachel Spencer. “This is important because the food that astronauts eat needs to be as good as any other device. Not only the most nutritious foods to send people to Mars and return to Earth. , You will also need the most delicious food. “

NASA grows chili peppers in space

Source link NASA grows chili peppers in space

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