The idea of cultivation of crops in space can take any person by astonishment. With zero gravity, it is never easy to get an area of greenery is space. The basic utilities may not tend to support the idea of cultivation. The seed could tend to float away and the water could not pour out to irrigate. Rather the water may glob up and result in the drowning of the roots. The cultivators need to think of artificial fans and lights to take the place of wind and the sun.
The space agency NASA sees clearly the need to cultivate crops in space for the explorers of the next generation who require having food when in scientific missions. The Mars or the moon missions could last for months together or may even extend up to few years.
In the present day, many astronauts are known to carry freeze-dried eatables. However, the essential nutrients like the vitamin K and vitamin C tend to disintegrate in the freeze-dried food items. Without those nutrients, the astronomers are noted to be highly vulnerable to catching infections, cancer, slow blood clotting, and cardiac ailments. Keeping this in mind the United State’s space giant reportedly has plans to seek skilled botanists, gardeners, and high-school children for helping them out in this next-gen plan.
The director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Carl Lewis said in a statement that there are millions of plants on the Earth which possess the edible property but it is a tough task to select as to which of them could be the best to produce food for the astronauts. He further said that his organization has been assigned to help with that task of choosing the plants.
The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has selected a total of one hundred six plant species, which could be cultivated in space. This list encompasses leafy lettuces and hardy cabbages. The organization has appointed fifteen thousand student-botanists to cultivate the selected plants in their classrooms under space-like conditions. The student-botanists are tasked to report their progress regularly to the space agency. NASA has funded the four-year initiative with a total sum of 1.24 million dollars.
A student-botanist, Rhys Campo, who tried cultivating “red romaine lettuce” said that they are not making use of any conventional gardening instrument. She further added that they have got set-ups, which have been developed using high-level technologies.
According to the reports, astronauts have tried cultivating in space earlier too. But the idea never proved to be of any good. The initial portable cultivating box was known as Veggie. Veggie was tested in the year 2014 where it was found that some lettuces never germinated and the others died.