Scientists are doing experiments to grow plants and harvest food in space. Any breakthrough in this could redefine the human’s approach to explore space, planets, and other celestial bodies. Food is one of the foremost concerns when space agencies plan a crewed mission. Astronauts for now have to carry food when they travel. They carry frozen-dried items. This only increases the weight of spacecraft and also occupies space. To address this concern, NASA is working on farming beyond Earth where conditions are different. The US space agency has made some progress in its effort. However, there is much more required to be done to ensure astronauts don’t run out of food in space.
NASA said that it has figured out an efficient way to supply water and air for plants to grow. The Plant Water Management project by NASA is growing plants on the International Space Station. The agency had earlier said that growing plant in space is possible and it could be used as a source of food to astronauts. But growing food in space minus Earth-like conditions is not easy. The key concern is gravity. There is no gravity in the space and therefore plants could grow indifferently. Earth’s gravity causes roots to grow differently. Therefore, the supply of crucial elements to the plant’s body is a big challenge. It becomes essential to create an Earth-like environment for plants to grow.
NASA said that the Plant Water Management’s project scientist Tyler Hatch worked on two main methods to ensure water reaches plants in space without the Earth’s atmosphere. The first method involved pouring water into the soil. The second method didn’t include soil. The plants were made to sit in water entirely. NASA named the method hydroponics. The agency said that all nutrients that plants need are mixed into the liquid. The roots supply the nutrients to plants’ bodies and help to grow. The experiment was conducted by astronauts on the ISS. They provided fruit punch that contains sugar and other nutrients to planets. It was found that nutrients moved through the plant’s body.