TechNASA's off-Earth harvest. Spaced-out tomatoes remain resilient after eight months

NASA's off‑Earth harvest. Spaced-out tomatoes remain resilient after eight months

International Space Station
International Space Station
Images source: © NASA

2:41 PM EST, December 15, 2023

Astronauts participating in space missions have been experimenting with growing their own food for a while now. The goal is to cultivate fruits and vegetables in the unique conditions of outer space, and it seems such food is proving to be rather resilient.

NASA has recently shared an exciting photograph that has garnered much attention online. The picture features a foil bag holding tomatoes grown on the International Space Station. Remarkably, these tomatoes were harvested...eight months ago.

Intended for consumption, passed over, now found: how do these space-grown tomatoes fare after eight months?

These vegetables were accidentally misplaced by an astronaut named Frank Rubio. At first, his colleagues on the ISS presumed he had eaten them, violating open directives that prohibited consumption due to a possible risk of fungal infection. However, Rubio's claim that he lost the vegetables was eventually confirmed, and the enduring resilience of these cosmic tomatoes has proven to be astoundingly remarkable.

Remarkably, these vegetables held up exceedingly well over time. NASA reported that aside from a few discolorations and a degree of water loss, the tomatoes appeared quite healthy. The agency also didn't observe any mold or microbes that could usually instigate vegetable decomposition.

These tomatoes were a part of NASA's VEG-05 project, being cultivated on the International Space Station. Besides these, the astronauts have also grown lettuce, cabbage, kale and flowers. Currently, researchers are exploring the potential of genetic modification in plants and seedlings to make them more suitable for space missions. Such studies aim to lead NASA towards better and more comprehensive nutritional options for astronauts on space missions.

Cosmic tomatoes after 8 months from picking.
Cosmic tomatoes after 8 months from picking.© NASA | NASA
Related content