Red Space-Lettuce Success!

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Space Lettuce Is as Nutritious as Earth Lettuce, Study Suggests.

Sometime in the next decade or so, NASA astronauts will make their way to Mars. When they do, they’ll most likely have to grow their own food during the long journey. That food will mostly be plant-based, including veggies like space-lettuce and other plant-based proteins. 

Now, research published today in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science claims that lettuce grown in space is just as nutritious as old-fashioned Earth lettuce. 

The author of the paper, Gioia D. Massa, said, “This was really good.” Dr. Massa, a plant scientist at Kennedy Space Center, then went on to say, “There wasn’t anything completely surprising or crazy or weird.”

Currently, NASA preps most astronaut food on Earth and then sends it to the ISS in air-tight packages. Sometimes, however, fresh produce is shipped up with cargo rockets. In those cases, salads are on the menu, but otherwise, it’s pre-packaged pseudo-food. 

Watch some info on some of the first space lettuce to be grown on the ISS!

 

Space Lettuce Mitigates Distance and TIme

It could take around three years to get to Mars. That means sending re-supply missions along the way is out. Some suggested sending supplies to the red planet ahead of human missions so that the food will be waiting for colonists when they arrive. Unfortunately, those meals, having sat on Mars for some five years before crews arrive, will be anything but fresh. 

This may not seem like it’s all that important. After all, throughout human history explorers have had to endure hardships in order to make discoveries. However, as Dr. Grace L. Douglas, lead scientist for advanced food technology at Johnson Space Center points out, “It’s going to be old by the end of that mission.” The problem is when food lacks taste and appropriate nutrients (which it loses through decay) astronauts are less likely to eat enough. Malnourishment, of course, is a very real danger when the mission requires sound decision-making ability.

Fortunately, the results of the study conducted by Dr. Massa and her team imply that plants grown in space can be every bit as good as the plants grown on Earth. One other thing, though…

If we eat with our eyes, the deep red color of the space lettuce might throw you off. Never fear, though. It’s the real deal. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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