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NASA Is Doing Something In Space Today That’s Never Been Done Before

It's taken years of research, buy NASA astronauts are finally about to eat their greens. 

Or, confusingly, their reds.

The Expedition 44 crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) are set to harvest and eat a crop of space-grown "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce on 10 August - the first time the ISS's Veggie plant growth system has been used to feed astronauts.

"Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce, grown in space

NASA has been experimenting with space-grown crops for a number of years, with its Veggie system set to provide future astronauts with a sustainable food supplement on long-term missions - including a trip to Mars.

The first crops - grown in "pillows" containing seeds and soil which can be readily strapped down in zero-gravity environments - were harvested and returned to Earth in October 2014. Having determined that the red romaine lettuce was safe for human consumption, the current ISS crew, including Scott Kelly (who's spending a year in space), are set to dine on a meal of LED-grown leaves.

An impression of the Veggie system NASA hopes to use in future space exploration missions

"Besides having the ability to grow and eat fresh food in space, there also may be a psychological benefit", explained NASA's 'Veggie' scientist Dr. Gioia Massa. "The crew does get some fresh fruits or vegetables, such as carrots or apples, when a supply ship arrives at the space station. But the quantity is limited and must be consumed quickly.

"The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling and psychological benefits. I think that plant systems will become important components of any long-duration exploration scenario."

Here's hoping the crew is rewarded with some space ice cream if they manage to finish their veg.

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