Feeds

What vegetables are best for growing in Spaaace?

Grim diet of turd-garden cabbage, spinach for Mars 'nauts

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

It's a question that must have vexed many space-loving gardeners over the years: Just what kinds of vegetables are most suitable for growing in space or at far-flung bases on alien worlds?

Now, that question has a definitive answer. At a conference in America*, scientists have announced their top 10 plants, chosen for such qualities as being able to absorb lots of CO2 breathed out by astronauts and turn it into lovely oxygen as well as more basic features such as not needing a lot of room and looking after. The winners are:

Lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, radishes, bell peppers, strawberries, fresh herbs and cabbages.

The plants have also been selected, of course, as a means of supplementing astronauts' diet on long voyages such as the oft-discussed mission to Mars which might be mounted in a decade or two. According to Maya Cooper, the NASA boffin who compiled the list, each Mars astronaut can be expected to get through 7,000lb – over three tonnes – of grub during a mission, which would be a serious load for the spacecraft if it all had to be carried as conventional provisions.

“That’s a clear impediment to a lot of mission scenarios,” Cooper said. “We need new approaches. Right now, we are looking at the possibility of implementing a bioregenerative system that would involve growing crops in space and possibly shipping some bulk commodities to a Mars habitat as well. This scenario involves much more food processing and meal preparation than the current food system developed for the space shuttles and the International Space Station.”

At the moment, astronauts don't have to do much veg prep or cooking, still less any massive amount of gardening, so this would involve something of a culture shift from the environment aboard the International Space Station today (though perhaps not for much longer, as the station may soon be uninhabited).

The history of space food has been something of a long decline so far, starting on an initial high point for Yuri Gagarin who reportedly scoffed caviar during the first ever manned space flight and then descending through various kinds of horrific squeezy-tube and nibble-block rations to pre-packaged Chicken a la King as seen today.

Whether the proposed future of spinach and cabbage – perhaps eked out with the odd strawberry or radish – grown in tanks most probably fertilised with human excrement is a step up or down remains to be seen. It would all appear to be a long way off for now, anyway. ®

*The national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Denver at the weekend.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.