Friday March 22, 2019
Home Lead Story Astronauts Wo...

Astronauts Would Be Able to Grow Beans in Space in 2021: NASA

That will allow her to compare how the different gravitational levels affect the plants in space

0
//
NASA, Microsoft
After lettuce, astronauts could grow beans in space in 2021. Pixabay

After cultivating lettuce in space three years ago, crew members aboard the International Space Station could be growing beans in 2021, new research by NASA suggests.

The beans could be planted in high-tech planters developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

The planters can regulate all the water, nutrients, gas and air the plants need.

NTNU said it was collaborating with Italian and French researchers in their quest to cultivate plant-based food for long space journeys.

The food grown in space could be crucial to sustain the crew in future deep space missions.

The longest stays at the International Space Station have been six months, while people travelling to Mars will need to be prepared to stay in space for at least a year.

The European Space Agency plans to build a lunar base in 2030 as a stopover on the way to Mars. NASA plans to fly directly to the planet with a target landing date of 2030.

In the study, published in the journal Life, the researchers performed three experiments — the first two experiments determined the effect of restricted rooting- and nutrient solution volumes, and based on this a third experiment was performed to assess plant responses to various nitrate nutrient solution concentrations.

Kepler, NASA, tissue
The food grown in space could be crucial to sustain the crew in future deep space missions. Pixabay

“We found that plants can, in a way, ‘smell’ the amount of nutrients available to them. When the nitrogen concentration is very low, the plant will absorb more water and thus more nitrogen until it reaches an optimal level,” said Silje Wolff, a plant physiologist at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space (CIRiS), which is part of NTNU Social Research.

“The plant has a mechanism that turns on when the nitrogen level is adequate. Then it adjusts both nitrogen and water absorption down,” Wolff added.

The researchers said that everything that can be tested on Earth has now been carried out.

The next step is to grow beans in space to observe the effect of no gravity on plants’ ability to transport water and absorb nutrients. Simulating the absence of gravity cannot be done on Earth.

The beans would be placed in a centrifuge to sprout and grow in the space station. The centrifuge would be rotated to create different amounts of gravity.

Also Read- U.S. President Donald Trump Says He’s Too Successful To Be Impeached

“The art of getting something to grow in space can be transferred to our planet,” Wolff said.

“This is how we create a setup that produces both the microgravity conditions in the space station and the 1-g (gravity) force that exists on Earth.”

That will allow her to compare how the different gravitational levels affect the plants in space.

“The dream of every astronaut is to be able to eat fresh food – like strawberries, cherry tomatoes or anything that’s really flavorful. Someday that will certainly be possible. We envision a greenhouse with several varieties of vegetables,” Wolff said. (IANS)

Next Story

NASA Probe Makes New Discoveries on Asteroid Bennu

As a result, Bennu's rotation period is decreasing by about a second every 100 years, the scientists explained

0
Asteroid
This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

NASA’s first asteroid-sampling mission OSIRIS-REx has observed particle plumes erupting from the surface of Bennu, an asteroid the size of the pyramid at Giza.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, which began orbiting Bennu on December 31, first discovered the particle plumes on January 6, followed by additional particle plumes over the last two months.

While some of the particles were slow-moving, the others were found orbiting Bennu, like small satellites.

Bennu’s entire surface was also found to be rough and dense with boulders, contrary to the Earth-based observations, which showed a smooth surface with a few large boulders.

This means that the sample collection part of the mission will have to be adjusted to make sure that OSIRIS-REx can touch down and collect a sample, said NASA while presenting the discoveries at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Conference in Houston.

“The discovery of plumes is one of the biggest surprises of my scientific career,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

NASA
This artist’s rendering made available by NASA in July 2016 shows the mapping of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. VOA

“And the rugged terrain went against all of our predictions. Bennu is already surprising us, and our exciting journey there is just getting started,” Lauretta added.

Further, the team observed a change in the spin rate of Bennu as a result of what is known as the Yarkovsky-O’Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack (YORP) effect.

The uneven heating and cooling of Bennu as it rotates in sunlight is causing the asteroid to increase its rotation speed.

Also Read- Huawei to Launch Foldable 5G Smartphone ‘Mate X’ in India

As a result, Bennu’s rotation period is decreasing by about a second every 100 years, the scientists explained.

OSIRIS-REx launched in 2016 to explore Bennu, the smallest body ever orbited by spacecraft, is expected to return a sample of the asteroid to Earth in 2023.

The findings will allow researchers to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the sources of water and organic molecules on Earth, the resources in near-Earth space, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. (IANS)