Humans introduced a new life form with space on Friday as NASA astronauts collected the first-ever chile peppers onboard the International Space Station.
The Hatch chile pepper seeds showed up at the space station on a SpaceX resupply mission in June and were immediately planted by NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough.
“Finally, I made my best space tacos yet: fajita beef, rehydrated tomatoes & artichokes, and HATCH CHILE,” astronaut Megan McArthur tweeted.
Astronauts approach a wide variety of freeze-dried and prepackages meals that they are regularly re-supplied with, yet figuring out how to develop new produce a large number of miles from earth will be key to longer missions.
“The challenge is the ability to feed crews in low-Earth orbit, and then to sustain explorers during future missions beyond low-Earth orbit to destinations including the Moon, as part of the Artemis program, and eventually to Mars,” Matt Romeyn, principal investigator for NASA’s Plant Habitat-04 experiment, explained.
“We are limited to crops that don’t need storage, or extensive processing.”
Growing crops like peppers may be valuable to astronauts’ physical health, yet their psychological health also, as indicated by Romeyn.
NASA astronauts established the Hatch chile seeds in an Advanced Plant Habitat, a development chamber outfitted with in excess of 180 sensors and LED lights that are constrained by a crew at the Kennedy Space Center.
A comparable chamber known as the Vegetable Production System has been growing crops for around six years, including lettuce, cabbage, kale, and zinnia flowers.
A group at Kennedy Space Center established a control group of peppers in almost indistinguishable conditions on earth to check whether microgravity and different factors in space impacted the development of the Hatch chiles.
“The spiciness of a pepper is determined by environmental growing conditions,” LaShelle Spencer, PH-04’s project science team lead, explained. “The combination of microgravity, light quality, temperature, and rootzone moisture will all affect flavor, so it will be interesting to find out how the fruit will grow, ripen, and taste.”
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