Day 300: NASA astronaut tends to “orbital tomatoes” inside the International Space Station

An American astronaut has been growing tomatoes during his 300 days on the International Space Station.

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Astronaut Frank Rubio (Courtesy: NASA via Twitter)

Astronaut Frank Rubio (Courtesy: NASA via Twitter)

An American astronaut has been growing tomatoes during his 300 days on the International Space Station.

NASA tweeted pictures of Astronaut Frank Rubio, who has taken part in multiple spacewalks, combustion experiments, and more. NASA included a picture of Rubio tending to tomatoes in what appears to be the Vegetable Production System, known as Veggie.

Veggie is about the size of a carry-on bag and helps NASA learn about plant growth in microgravity while adding fresh produce to astronauts’ diets.

Veggie has helped astronauts grow a variety of produce, including lettuce, cabbage, mustard, and kale. Two years ago, NASA said it hoped to grow tomatoes and peppers in the future. Foods like berries and beans could offer the added benefit of space radiation protection.

Some of the plants are harvested and eaten by the crew members, with the remaining samples returned to Earth to be analyzed. One concern was harmful microbes growing on the produce. So far, no harmful contamination has been detected, and the food has been safe and enjoyable.

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