Feeds

What vegetables are best for growing in Spaaace?

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

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
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
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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.
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.