A Moment of Science

What Is The Ideal Crop For Space Farming?

Outer space doesn't exactly provide ideal growing conditions, but one little fruit may be up to the challenge.

seascape_strawberry

Photo: Aayesha Siddiqui

Seascape is a low-maintenance variety of strawberry.

Farming in space will be very different than on Earth.

For one, there is no natural light, so plants will need to be heated by artificial sunlight lamps. Water is very limited. There is neither wind and nor insect to pollinate the plants. Even roots will have some trouble in the low-gravity environment.

What crops could possibly adapt to such conditions?

Well, scientists at Purdue University suspect the low-maintenance Seascape cultivar — a cultivated variety of strawberry — is up to the challenge. These berries are big, red and just as tasty as the ones at our local farmer’s market.

Various plant specimens that were growing at the International Space Station were brought back by the Discovery space shuttle in April and are now being examined by researchers. It will take about a year before we hear the results, but astronauts everywhere are probably crossing their fingers. One can only tolerate freeze-dried fajitas for so long!

Read More:

  • Strawberries May Be Ideal Crop for Space Farms of the Future (PopSci)
  • Low-Maintenance Strawberry May Be Good Crop to Grow in Space (PurdueUniversity)

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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