The News Today
__
10.22.20
Salad Days

Good News: Space Lettuce Is Safe to Eat, Good for You

__Victor Tangermann__Filed Under: Hard Science
NASA/Victor Tangermann

Space Lettuce

According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, lettuce grown in space isn’t just delicious — it’s also just as nutritious and safe to eat as boring old Earth lettuce.

“The ability to grow safe, fresh food to supplement packaged foods of astronauts in space has been an important goal for NASA,” reads the paper.

Green Zone

After an thorough examination of lettuce grown on board the International Space Station (ISS), the researchers concluded that it showed barely any differences compared to Earth-grown lettuce — except for negligible shifts in the content of certain metals, including iron, potassium, and zinc.

Astronauts cultivated lettuce on the ISS between 2014 and 2016. A NASA control back on Earth replicated the exact conditions to compare later.

The results were encouraging: the two lettuces were almost exactly the same, down to the microbial communities found on the plants.

Gravity Garden

Growing lettuce, however, is far easier  than other veggies.

“Tomatoes and peppers, which we hope to grow this year and next, will need similar growing conditions,” lead author and Kennedy Space Center researcher Christina Khodadad told Astronomy. “But because they take a lot longer to grow (28 days versus 80 days), they are much more of an investment of time and resources.”

READ MORE: Before we settle Mars, scientists must perfect growing space salad [Astronomy]

More on space veggies: NASA Planning to Grow Chili Peppers on Space Station