NASA is seeking help from students in identifying different plant varieties that might be able to grow in space in order to feed astronauts traveling through our solar system. NASA hopes that astronauts on missions, such as those to Mars, can use seed packs to grow some of their food during the trips.
Students in 115 schools in and around Miami met at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida, were presented with growing stations similar to the ones astronauts use for research in space. They will be able to see which plants would be sustainable in different conditions.
Trent Smith, project manager for the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) a plant-growth system researching ways to grow the foods in orbit, says “If you get a plant that can grow well in all the classrooms – some are hot, some are really cold, kids are sneezing on them, the humidity is always changing – that’s a plant worth looking at for growing in space.”
The second year of research has begun and studies have found that harvesting a little of a plant at a time, could enable astronauts to have fresh food in space rather than waiting for the whole plant to mature.
It may not be their main source of food, but it could provide astronauts with fresh vegetables and a reminder of life back on Earth.
More information on the studies can be found here.