Radishes…it’s what’s for dinner. Well, not quite yet in space anyway.
On the International Space Station, NASA is working on a science experiment to grow radishes in a new habitat, the Assessment of Nutritional Value and Growth Parameters of Space-grown plants (Plant Habitat-02).
This experiment is trying to cultivate radishes as a model plant that is nutritious and edible, has a short cultivation time, and is genetically similar to Arabidopsis, a plant frequently studied in microgravity.
Developing the capability for food production in space requires understanding cultivation conditions such as intensity and spectral composition of light and the effects of the culture medium or soil. This research could help optimize plant growth in the unique environment of space, as well as evaluation of nutrition and taste of the plants.
The research addresses NASA’s goal of sustaining crews on long-duration space exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit, including missions to the surface of the Moon and Mars. These missions will require astronauts to maintain nutritionally valuable food crops that can be reliably grown in an artificial environment defined by altered gravity levels and different atmospheric and soil conditions.
NASA is also looking to understand the physiology of plants, which may improve the efficiency and productivity of plant cultivation on Earth, as well as the nutritional value of crops.
Watch a time lapse of Dwarf Wheat growing in the Advanced Plant Habitat onboard the station below: