Feeds

Spaceship 'salad units' to farm special astro strawberries

Efficient juicy fruits to ward off scurvy on Mars voyages

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Fruity boffins in America say they have identified a type of strawberry which would be ideal for growing in hydroponic spacegoing mini-farms to feed astronauts on long-duration space voyages of the future - missions to Mars, for instance.

Strawberries suitable for growing in space. Credit: Purdue University

In related research, the boffins tested strawberries for use in French surrealist cinema

According to Cary Mitchell and his colleague Gioia Massa, horticulture profs, strawberries could be an ideal space crop as the plants are small and relatively low-maintenance. However they might also be considered something of a treat by bored astronauts, tired of their government-issue rat-piss sports drinks etc.

"The idea is to supplement the human diet with something people can look forward to," says Mitchell. "Fresh berries can certainly do that."

Even better, the "Seascape" variety of strawberry has an extra space-friendly feature, according to the boffins. You can cut down on the amount of time its grow-lights are left on: and while this means fewer berries, they are actually bigger, such that the same weight of grub is produced while saving on energy and on harvesting time.

"I was astounded that even with a day-neutral cultivar we were able to get basically the same amount of fruit with half the light," says Mitchell.

According to the researchers, funded by NASA and based at Purdue uni, early space farming efforts are likely to be deployed in the form of a "salad machine" mini greenhouse or "small growth unit" which will produce limited amounts of lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and such in order to supplement ordinary space tuck as eaten today. The only sweet crop likely to make it would be strawberries, they say.

"We're trying to think of the whole system -- growing food, preparing it and getting rid of the waste," Massa said. "Strawberries are easy to prepare and there's little waste."

The space strawberry research thus far can be read here (abstract free, subscription for the full paper). ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.