One of the downsides of working as an astronaut is represented by the fact that they have to rely on foods that have been processed and packed. The rations include chicken, beef, nuts fruits, and sweets, but they have to be sterilized with the help of aggressive procedures like drying, heating, and deep freezing. A new study elaborated by a team of researchers details the successful cultivation of “space lettuce” aboard the International Space Station.
The lettuce has grown well, and it does not carry any diseases, while also holding the same nutrients as the counterpart that can be found on Earth. Fresh food would be an excellent addition to the diet of astronauts since it retains several vitamins and minerals that are required for the proper functioning of the human body.
The “space lettuce” is the first step towards growing food in space
The ability to grow crops would also be a great boon in the case of lengthy missions that seek to rich a distant objective, like the NASA and SpaceX initiatives that seek to reach the Red Planet. Lettuce and other leafy greens can also be grown with a low amount of resources and consumed fresh with the addition of a few condiments.
A few years ago, lettuce was cultivated aboard the ISS in sterilized growth chambers, which were designed for use in space. Special seeds that had to be disinfected before being sent to the station were also used. The crow was quite impressive, and a portion was consumed by astronauts while the remains were sent to Earth for tests.
Laboratory trials have shown that the lettuce, which grew on the ISS, tends to feature a higher concentration of select minerals, among which we can count potassium, sodium, sulfur, and zinc. Increased levels of powerful antioxidants were also observed. Microbes that could be found on the leaves do not produce any harm for humans. More data can be found in a paper published in a scientific journal.