Lettuces conquer space
17-08-2015 CAB IN THE MEDIA (ABC)

The first food produced outside the Earth opens the doors to long space travel and bases on planets.

In October 1957 the world held its breath in full Cold War. The Soviet Union celebrated its birthday with the launch of the first artificial satellite in history, Sputnik 1, and just a month later it put a living being in orbit, also for the first time. Thus, what was a harmless and docile Moscow street dog, Laika, would later become a kind of Soviet heroine whose sacrifice, along with many other animals, served both the Americans and the Soviets to find out what was needed for the human being to reach space.

57 years after Laika ended up disintegrating in the atmosphere and in a much more peaceful climate, astronauts can now live in space. Three of them met Monday around a device the size of a small refrigerator, aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to take a small snack. Their faces, congested by the low gravity, were illuminated by a violet light that came from a strange greenhouse in which grew six plants of romaine lettuce. After harvesting and dressing them with oil and vinegar, one of them tasted it and sentenced: "It's incredible." Besides having tasted the most expensive salad in history, that astronaut had become one of the first man to eat a food grown beyond Earth.

«If we want to travel further and for more time for space, we need to grow plants to feed the crews, "said Gioia Massa, one of the scientists who led the experiment, called" Veggie-1. " At the time of justifying the development of this program, the researcher also stressed the importance of vegetables in the recycling of nutrients and psychological stability of the crew, some people who are confined for months in rooms full of electrical appliances.

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Bacteria, keys in the journey and colonization of other planet

Apart from designing strategies to produce food from plants and animals reared In space, Eduardo González, a microbiologist at the Astrobiology Center (dependent on INTA), recalls the importance that bacteria would have in spacecraft: "First, they are essential for the proper growth of almost all plants. On the other hand, many of them tend to help fight diseases and also participate in the decomposition of organic matter. "

As if that were not enough, González explains that the genes that bacteria use to live in extreme environments can be introduced into plants to give new capabilities: "The objective of our laboratory is to design plants that can adapt better to the extreme conditions of space and facilitate the development of future space missions and bases on other planets," he explains. / p>

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Fuente: ABC

 

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