Beans in Space

Astronauts May Grow Beans in Space in 2021

“The dream of every astronaut is to be able to eat fresh food like strawberries, cherry tomatoes or anything that’s really flavorful,” Silje Wolff, a plant physiologist at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space (CIRiS) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), said in a statement. “Someday that will certainly be possible. We envision a greenhouse with several varieties of vegetables.”

After reading Silje Wolff’s opinion about the growing beans in Space, we can surely say that astronauts have some plans to realize this mission.

Wolff recently wrapped up an experiment where lettuce grew in space in specialized planters that regulate all the water, nutrients, and gas and air the plants need. Though the fact she used artificial soil, Wolff adds the goal is for the plants to grow directly in water infused with life-sustaining nutrients. All the water and food must be recovered, which means that plant fertilization needs to be “as precise as possible,” she describes.

“Addressing the psychological aspect of eating something fresh is one of our goals,” she said. “Vacuum-packed food doesn’t really remind you of food. Having something fresh that triggers the appetite and the right receptors in the brain is important.”

“Astronauts like gardening and everything that reminds them of life on earth. They enjoy tending and watering the vegetables, and getting them to germinate,” Wolff said. “The way space travel works today, it’s almost impossible to take along all the resources you need,” Wolff adds. “That’s why we have to develop a biological system so astronauts can produce their own food and recycle all of the resources.” On Earth, gravity causes warm air to rise and cold air to sink. On a space station, air is more stationary, giving astronauts something akin to a low-grade fever. Plants are similarly affected, so we will witness the mission of the growing beans in Space in 2021.

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