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What does fresh food during space missions look like? Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi finds out in an experiment.
Al Neyadi was part of the crew which conducted the HRF Veg experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) in collaboration with the Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center, and NASA.
Looking into space agriculture and nutrition, the study focused on understanding the overall behavioral health benefits of having plants and fresh food in space for plants grown.
The experiment involved growing draft tomatoes under controlled light and fertilizer conditions to understand their nutrition, taste, and safety. It also examines the psychological impact on astronauts growing, tending, and consuming fresh produce during long-duration space missions.
Here I am using the Multi-use Variable-g Platform which allows us to conduct experiments on plants, cells, protein crystals and others, with the ability to simulate up to two times the force of gravity.🧪
These experiments can help study the behaviour and growth of organisms. pic.twitter.com/2J0xH9O7EM
“The HRF Veg experiment is an important study towards enabling sustainability in space exploration,” said Adnan AlRais, Mission Manager, UAE Astronaut Program. “This collaborative effort with NASA, Kennedy Space Center, and the Johnson Space Center fortifies our understanding of food cultivation in space, nourishing astronauts’ physical health and psychological well-being on prolonged missions. We’re privileged to contribute to this pivotal research through astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, and we are sure that the result from this study holds the potential to shape the future of long-term habitation in space.”
Crew members tended and watered the plants, pollinating and harvesting the fruit. Half of the harvested tomatoes are set to be consumed by the ISS crew, while the remaining are to be returned to Earth for comprehensive analysis. The crew will also participate in taste tests and complete questionnaires to analyze the sensory quality of the produce, such as flavor, color, aroma, sweetness, and more.
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