The "Case of the Missing Space Tomatoes" has finally been solved.

Tomat... Oh

Astronauts on board the International Space Station made a startling discovery: the husks of two old and dried-out tomatoes.

While the finding may sound more like the undesirable outcome of a deep kitchen cleaning, the two rogue tomatoes were the subject of a fierce debate among crew members, with NASA astronaut Frank Rubio initially being accused of eating his share of the space-grown harvest prematurely.

Now, NASA is ready to show off the smoking gun: an image of two, squashed and discolored, grape-sized tomatoes sealed inside an evidence bag.

In short, it's the riveting conclusion to a low-stakes, space-based whodunnit — and we're here for it.

Ketching Up

The tomatoes were part of the eXposed Root On-Orbit Test System (XROOTS) experiment, which involved growing plants hydroponically and aeroponically, meaning without any soil or other growth media.

Rubio, who spent a record-breaking 371 days aboard the station starting September 2022, somehow misplaced a portion of his share of the harvested tomatoes, triggering a station-wide hunt.

In a recently shared video on the "Case of the Missing Space Tomatoes," shared by NASA's Johnson Space Center, the astronaut recalled what had happened.

"We have, uh, one ripe tomato that just came loose," Rubio told ground control in the footage.

"I was pretty confident that I velcroed it where I was supposed to velcro it and then I came back and it was gone," he later recalled in an interview.

"I spent so many hours looking for that thing," he added. "I'm sure the desiccated tomato will show up at some point and vindicate me, years in the future."

Given the latest evidence, that's exactly what seems to have happened.

"Our good friend Frank Rubio, who headed home [already], has been blamed for quite a while for eating the tomato," NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli said during a live stream celebrating the station's 25th anniversary earlier this month.

"But we can exonerate him," she added. "We found the tomato."

More on the tomato: Space Station Astronauts Find Desiccated Tomato After Blaming Colleague for Its Theft

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