|Wednesday What's New: Outer Space Gardens|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Wednesday, 04 May 2016|
Dubbed the "Salad Bowl" project by NASA, the National Air and Space Administration, scientists at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station have been able to grow lettuce under the same conditions of minimal light and poor soils that are found on the moon and on Mars. According to an article on galaxy gardening in the North-Texas e-news, the goal of the project is to find a way to grow food for space missions instead of having to transport all the food required for a trip into outer space.
Dr. Fred Davies, a horticulturist with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station stated that growing green lettuce for space voyagers to eat on their trips to outer space serves two functions. It provides Vitamin A and is important psychologically because it is a fresh food that most people are familiar with. Most space food is reconstituted.
The lettuce is grown is specially designed growth chambers that operate under conditions of low atmospheric pressure and either no carbon similar to the moon, or with an atmosphere of 95% carbon dioxide such as that on Mars. One of the interesting observations made by Dr. Chuan He, another researcher working on the project, was that under conditions of low pressure the lettuce produced larger heads than normal.
Photo source: Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Kathleen Phillips