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  [ISS] Growing vegetables and flowers (Veggie)

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Author Topic:   [ISS] Growing vegetables and flowers (Veggie)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-10-2015 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
Astronauts snack on space-grown lettuce for first time (officially)

For the first time, at least officially, the NASA astronauts on board the International Space Station have tasted the product, or more specifically, the produce, of their work.

Expedition 44 crewmembers Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren of NASA together with Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Monday (Aug. 10) happily chomped on the "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce, which they freshly harvested from the orbiting lab's Veggie plant growth system.

"That's awesome," remarked Lindgren on his first bite.

"Tastes good," added Kelly.

"I like that," said Yui.

onesmallstep
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posted 08-10-2015 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I see a Whole Foods Market franchise on the ISS soon

lspooz
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posted 08-10-2015 08:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes padawan, if you want be an astronaut you have to eat your veggies.

To boldly grow where no one has grown before.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-13-2015 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
First space harvest meal captured in 4K Ultra High Definition:

mode1charlie
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posted 08-13-2015 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is that olive oil and balsamic vinegar they're putting on the leaves?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-13-2015 04:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is... they tried the lettuce plain first, and then with the oil and vinegar. (I think Samantha Cristoforetti may have been responsible for the extra virgin olive oil, as I remember her mentioning it as among her food choices.)

onesmallstep
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posted 08-13-2015 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would take an Italian to not forget that olive oil!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-28-2015 10:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Veggie's new crop, flowering zinnias, don't seem to have fared as well as the earlier lettuce. From Scott Kelly on Twitter:
Our plants aren't looking too good. Would be a problem on Mars. I'm going to have to channel my inner Mark Watney.

The zinnias were intended as a test run for tomato plants to be grown in 2017.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-08-2016 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The zinnias were dying as a result of mold, which was traced back to excessive water in the experiment, Discovery News reports.
ISS commander and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly reported the mold to Mission Control Dec. 22 just as Veggie principal investigator Trent Smith was trying to manage the water problem. In pictures, Smith saw water on the plants a few days before. He told Discovery News he was trying to relay a command from NASA's station operations team to increase fan speed in Veggie, but the mold developed before the command could be put through.

One solution was, on Christmas Eve, to designate Kelly "commander" of Veggie. Kelly now has more autonomy to make changes to Veggie's conditions if he feels the plants need it.

Kelly seems to have a green thumb. Four of the plants died but three are still healthy, as he tweeted today:
Some of my space flowers are on the rebound! No longer looking sad!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-16-2016 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Scott Kelly on Twitter:
First ever flower grown in space makes its debut!

(To be accurate, it is not the first flower: that record goes to the Salyut 7 crew's Arabidopsis flowers in 1982 [and since then, among possible others, Don Pettit grew a sunflower in 2012].)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-20-2016 01:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
First flower grown in space (or not): Zinnia blooms aboard space station

"First ever flower grown in space makes its debut!"

With that declaration, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly revealed to the world the bright orange zinnias that had blossomed on board the International Space Station on Jan. 16.

"Yes, there are other life forms in space!" he exclaimed on Twitter from 250 miles (400 km) above the Earth. He even coined a hashtag: #spaceflower.

Kelly, the space station's commander, had good reason to crow. Just a few weeks earlier, the zinnias, which are part of the NASA plant growth experiment "Veggie," had come close to dying due to a break out of mold. If it was not for a revised care plan by NASA botanists on the ground — and Kelly's own "green thumb" on orbit — there may not have been any flowers to tweet about.

But in conveying his excitement, Kelly made a mistake. His newly-bloomed zinnias were not the first flowers grown in space.

Solarplexus
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posted 01-20-2016 09:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Solarplexus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congrats. They must dry it and put it in lucite.

fredtrav
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posted 01-20-2016 10:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is probably the nicest flower grown in space. The Soviet grew a plant throughout its lifecycle on Salyut in 1982. Arabodopsis Thaliana. Which flowered and went to seed. It is edible as well, but don't know if they ate any.

Then there is this. Not sure if it was flown already flowering or it flowered in space.

Still a great achievement and hopefully one they can build on.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-12-2016 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Scott Kelly on Twitter:
Just got my things returned from @Space_Station via @SpaceX, incl. #SpaceFlower. Let's see how it grows on Earth!

Mark Kelly replied:

Appreciate the excitement, @StationCDRKelly, but that #SpaceFlower looks like it needs to be thrown in the trash!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-25-2016 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Third Lettuce Crop Begins Growing Aboard Station

Just as farmers on Earth are planting leafy greens for the fall growing season, astronauts aboard the International Space Station are planting their third on-orbit crop of red romaine lettuce.

Early this morning, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough initiated the Veg-03 experiment, one of his first science assignments as a new crew member aboard the orbiting laboratory. As Kimbrough worked, members of the Veggie team watched from their consoles in the Experiment Monitoring Area located in Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A live video downlink from the orbiting laboratory allowed the scientists to remotely watch Kimbrough's actions and ensure he did not encounter any challenges with the activity or hardware.

"Operations went great today! A little slower than expected, but all plant pillows were successfully primed for the first time in our Veg series," said Nicole Dufour, NASA's Veggie project manager. Plant pillows are small pouches already containing a growth medium, fertilizer and seeds; to start them growing, astronauts simply add a little water.

"We previously have had some hardware issues that prevented at least one pillow from each 'grow out' from being successfully primed, so we were very excited to achieve that milestone," she added.

Astronauts on future long-duration space missions will need to be able to grow their own food to supplement their diets. Using the Veggie plant growth facility aboard the station, Veg-03 builds on the successes of previous studies, including Veg-01, which resulted in the first-ever on-orbit harvest and sampling of fresh produce during the summer of 2015. Techniques learned from Veggie crops will sow benefits on Earth and help NASA prepare for the Journey to Mars.

The Veg-03 crop will be the Veggie team's first on-orbit attempt at a new, repetitive harvest technique termed 'Cut-and-Come-Again'.

"Once the plants are approximately four weeks old, a selection of leaves can be harvested for a bit of fresh lettuce and possibly science samples. Meanwhile, some leaves are left intact along with the core of the plant, and will continue to grow and produce more leaves," Dufour explained.

"We expect this will increase the on-orbit crop yield, as well as allow for more opportunities to supplement our astronauts' diets with fresh, nutritious food from the same plants, which is an important goal of the 'pick-and-eat' food concept."

Dufour reports the team is anxiously awaiting germination results, expected early next week.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-26-2016 04:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Shane Kimbrough on Twitter:
Loved planting lettuce today for the @ISS_Research Veggie experiment. Looking forward to seeing the results in a few weeks!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-05-2016 12:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Space Gardener Shane Kimbrough Enjoys First of Multiple Harvests

For a mid-afternoon snack, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough cut some of the "Outredgeous" Red Romaine lettuce leaves he nurtured during the past month aboard the International Space Station as part of a gardening harvest technique termed "cut-and-come-again."

Above: Charles Spern, a Veggie project engineer with the Engineering Services Contract, relays messages from the Kennedy Space Center Veggie team to assist the crew during the harvest.

Kimbrough initiated the most recent round of the Veggie experiment on Oct. 25, and for the first time in space, all six lettuce plants are growing simultaneously. Kimbrough has taken on the part-time role of on-orbit gardener, working virtually autonomously to cultivate the crops, although gardeners on the ground at Kennedy Space Center provided help in the beginning.

"During their first week of life, the small seedlings were getting too much water," said Veggie Project Manager Nicole Dufour. "This put the plants' growth a bit behind schedule, but they recovered nicely after we instructed Kimbrough to use a fan to dry up some of the moisture."

Cut-and-come-again is a repetitive harvest technique in which a selection of leaves can be harvested for a bit of fresh lettuce and possibly science samples. The remaining leaves and the core of the plant are left intact and will continue to grow and produce more leaves for subsequent harvests approximately every 10 days. The goal is to increase the on-orbit crop yield, as well as allow for more opportunities to supplement astronaut diets with fresh, nutritious food.

"Testing this method on-orbit, after using it on the ground, is very exciting for us," said Dufour. "A repetitive harvest allows us to provide more food for both the crew and for science, so it's a win-win. We are looking forward to hearing how Shane enjoys his first harvest!"

Today's harvest will be solely for crew consumption, and the plan is to have four harvests in total, with the final harvest targeted for the first of the new year. The yields from these harvests will be split between samples for science return and crew consumption.

This experiment also is an important demonstration of how NASA applies science across disciplines — in this case Space Biology to grow a healthy crop and Human Research to ensure astronauts remain healthy — to enable human space exploration. NASA's Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications division integrates and funds such research.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-05-2016 12:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA photo release
Six lettuce plants grow aboard the International Space Station as part of the Veg-03 experiment. At the rear of the chamber, a triangle plaque that crew members mounted this summer is visible. The plaque honors the memory and contributions of Thora Halstead and Ken Souza — both giants in the field of Space Biology, and reads: "Dedicated to the memory of space biology pioneers Thora Halstead and Ken Souza, for all they did to plant and nurture the seeds of biological research in space."

Halstead conceived of and implemented the NASA Small Payload Program for Life Science through her innovative use of the mid-deck lockers in the space shuttle. She nurtured the program through its early years in the '80s and was a founding member of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR), America's premier society for space research in the life and physical sciences.

Souza was also a founding member of ASGSR, and made numerous contributions to the field of Space Biology during his nearly 50 years with NASA. He was the principal investigator in the first demonstration of successful reproduction of a vertebrate animal (frogs) in space. Souza also had numerous programmatic contributions to the field of Space Biology during his tenure at both Ames Research Center and NASA Headquarters.

Both Halstead's and Souza's early stewardship of a new science that became the discipline of space biology will continue to benefit future explorers on the journey to Mars.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-20-2017 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update:
Astronaut Peggy Whitson will initiate the next round of crops to be grown aboard the International Space Station today [Jan. 20]. For the first time, a Chinese cabbage variety named Tokyo Bekana will be grown in space.

The cabbage was chosen as a good candidate because it is a quick growing leafy green that is rated highly from a nutritional and taste perspective. Whitson will act as the on-orbit gardener, tending to the cabbage for about a month.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-17-2017 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Cabbage Patch: Fifth Crop Harvested Aboard Space Station

After spending nearly a month tending to the International Space Station's first crop of Chinese cabbage, astronaut Peggy Whitson harvested the leafy greens on Feb. 17.

At first, one of the six seeds of the Tokyo Bekana Chinese cabbage variety seemed to have been planted higher than the rest, keeping it from getting wet enough in the beginning. But the on-orbit gardener would not be deterred.

"Peggy is doing an amazing job," said Veggie Project Manager Nicole Dufour. "She wouldn't give up and she was able to get the seed in pillow D to germinate."

While the space station crew will get to eat some of the Chinese cabbage, the rest is being saved for scientific study back at Kennedy Space Center. This is the fifth crop grown aboard the station, and the first Chinese cabbage. The crop was chosen after evaluating several leafy vegetables on a number of criteria, such as how well they grow and their nutritional value. The top four candidates were sent to Johnson Space Center's Space Food Systems team, where they brought in volunteer tasters to sample the choices. The Tokyo Bekana turned out to be the most highly rated in all the taste categories.

Astronauts often report that their taste buds dull during spaceflight, and they frequently add hot sauce, honey or soy sauce to otherwise bland-tasting fare. One explanation for this may be that, in a reduced gravity environment, the fluid in astronauts' bodies shifts around equally, rather than being pulled down into their legs as we're accustomed to on Earth. The fluid that fills up their faces feels similar to the congestion from a cold and reduces their ability to smell. Researchers suggest this phenomenon — combined with all the other odors aboard the confined orbiting laboratory competing with the aroma of their food — may ultimately dull their sense of taste.

However, there is a backup plan to ensure the crew's culinary delight. If the fresh Chinese cabbage they grew doesn't awaken their taste buds on its own, packets of ranch dressing were also sent up to help them enjoy the fruits (or veggies) of their labor.

What's up next for Veggie? Two exciting prospects are on the horizon. Later this spring, a second, more efficient, Veggie system will be sent up to be seated next to the current one. It will provide side-by-side comparisons for future plant experiments and will hopefully make astronauts like Whitson happy to have a bigger space garden.

"I love gardening on Earth, and it is just as fun in space . . ." Whitson tweeted in early February. "I just need more room to plant more!"

Additionally, aboard the next resupply mission to the space station will an experiment involving Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant, and petri plates inside the Veggie facility. Arabidopsis is the genetic model of the plant world, making it a perfect sample organism for performing genetic studies. The principal Investigator is University of Florida's Dr. Anna Lisa Paul.

"These experiments will provide a key piece of the puzzle of how plants adjust their physiology to meet the needs of growing in a place outside their evolutionary experience," Dr. Paul said. "And the more complete our understanding, the more success we will have in future missions as we take plants with us off planet."

Later this year, the Advanced Plant Habitat, NASA's largest plant growth chamber, will make its way to the station, increasing the amount of scientific knowledge needed to dig deeper into long-duration food production for missions farther and farther from home.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-27-2017 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
How Does Your Space Garden Grow?

Early Friday morning, astronauts onboard the International Space Station were busy at work, harvesting three varieties of leafy greens from the Veggie growth chamber and installing the next generation of plant research – the high-tech Advanced Plant Habitat.

Simultaneously Growing Three Plant Varieties a First for Veggie

Above: Three different varieties of plants growing in the Veggie plant growth chamber on the International Space Station were harvested this morning. (NASA)

The Veggie plant growth team kicked it up a notch with their sixth round of crops grown aboard the International Space Station with experiment VEG-03D. For the first time, three different plant varieties are simultaneously growing in the Veggie chamber.

On Oct. 27, station astronaut Joe Acaba harvested Mizuna mustard, Waldmann's green lettuce and Outredgeous Red Romaine lettuce, providing himself and his crew with the makings of a salad — once they top it with salad dressing sent up by the ground crew at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, of course.

"It's an impressive harvest. Joe did a great job!" said Veggie project manager Nicole Dufour.

"As a continuation of our Veg-03 tech demo efforts, we wanted to try something a little bit different. Building on some of our current ground testing, we decided to attempt a mixed crop. We were hoping that the visual diversity of the plants would be more enjoyable to the crew, as well as the variety of flavors offered by the different types of leafy greens."

During the harvest, Acaba only clipped about half of the leafy greens, leaving the rest to continue growing for a future yield. This technique, called cut-and-come-again repetitive harvesting, allows the crew to have access to fresh produce for a longer period of time.

Growing three different crops at the same time wasn't without its challenges.

"The biggest complication we have faced thus far has been how well the Mizuna has been growing," Dufour said. "Its long, spear-like stalks tend to get caught in the bellows as the crew opens and closes the unit to water the plants."

After the Veggie harvest, the crew kept on their virtual overalls and went on to install the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), NASA's largest plant growth chamber.

Advanced Plant Habitat Turns On, Turns Up Research

As Acaba switched gears from Veggie to the new plant habitat around 5:45 a.m. EDT Friday, APH project manager Bryan Onate and his team walked Acaba through procedures to install the plant habitat into an Expedite the Processing of Experiments to Space Station, or EXPRESS, rack in the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo.

"It's amazing that a plant growth system that began from a blank sheet of paper about five years ago now is installed on the space station," Onate said. "Plant scientists are really going to be able to learn utilizing this system."

The plant habitat is a fully enclosed, closed-loop system with an environmentally controlled growth chamber. It uses red, blue and green LED lights, and broad spectrum white LED lights. The system's more than 180 sensors will relay real-time information, including temperature, oxygen content and moisture levels back to the team at Kennedy.

"APH will be the largest plant growth system on the space station," Howard Levine, the chief scientist in Kennedy's Utilization and Life Science Office who started working on APH seven years ago, said. "It will be capable of hosting multigenerational studies with environmental variables tracked and controlled in support of whole plant physiological testing and bioregenerative life support system investigations."

Once the team at Marshall completes an EXPRESS rack water flow test, the Kennedy team will power up the system. After the water cooling system with the APH passes the test, functional checkout of the plant habitat will begin and take about one week to complete.

Four power feeds to the plant habitat will be turned on and the Kennedy team will monitor the system's Plant Habitat Avionics Real-Time Manager, or PHARMER, for a response. This unique system provides real-time telemetry, remote commanding and photo downlink to the team at Kennedy.

After the PHARMER has verified all subsystems are a go, space station crew members will install the science carrier and initiate the growth of test crops — Arabidopsis seeds, small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard, and dwarf wheat — during an overlapping timetable of about five weeks. During this time, the system will be monitored for its capability to grow plants, capture and reuse water, and maintain the atmosphere in the growth chamber.

"The test will help us to determine if the planting procedure is good and the habitat is operating as designed," Onate said. "The results of plant growth in the habitat will be compared with the results of tests completed in the control unit here at Kennedy."

All of these preparations are leading up to the initiation of PH-01, which will grow five different types of Arabidopsis and is scheduled to launch on Orbital ATK's ninth commercial resupply mission to the space station.

The nutritional boost of fresh food and the psychological benefits of growing plants become paramount as the agency plans for future missions to deep space destinations.

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