This is what happens to space tomatoes that get lost on the International Space Station for 8 months – DNyuz

This is what happens to space tomatoes that get lost on the International Space Station for 8 months

Imagine what would happen to a tomato if you lost it in your home — here on Earth — and found it eight months later.

The red fleshy fruit would turn into a horrifically unrecognizable clump of white and black fuzz, worn down by time and bacteria.

Not in space.

Two space-grown tomatoes that NASA astronaut Frank Rubio mistakenly lost on the International Space Station earlier this year turned up last week, eight months after they went missing, vindicating Rubio, whose colleagues had accused him of eating them.

The tomatoes are remarkably tasty — would you dare to say edible? Considering the trauma they endured.

In a press release on Thursday, NASA shared a new image of what the rogue fruits looked like when they were found, reporting that they had become dehydrated and “slightly squished.”

“Other than some discoloration,” NASA said, they “had no visible microbial or fungal growth.”

The tomatoes were grown on the International Space Station as part of NASA’s VEG-05 project which was launched late last year to study crop growth, food safety, and flavor in space.

The experiment used the space station’s vegetable facility to grow dwarf tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, kale, and flowers, in an effort to address the need for ongoing fresh food in space and on future missions to both the Moon and Mars, according to NASA.

The discovery of the long-lost tomatoes was announced earlier this month in a live-stream interview from the International Space Station.

After the experimental tomatoes were harvested in March, each astronaut was given a sample in a Ziplock bag, Space.com previously reported. The space-bound gardeners were instructed not to eat the fruit in case of potential fungal contamination.

Rubio lost his tomato track after serving an 371 record number of days in space. This led to him receiving jabs by his colleagues.

The embattled astronaut was finally exonerated earlier this month after having left the space station. The missing fruits were ultimately located in a plastic bag, NASA said.

NASA has confirmed that the tomatoes have already been thrown away and will not return to Earth.

But despite the mystery of the tomatoes, plant research is continuing on the station. Scientists involved in the Plant-Habitat-03 project are currently working to assess if genetic adaptions in a generation of plants grown in space are transferable to generations down the line, NASA said. The study’s results could help researchers zero in on genetic elements in plants that make them adaptable to spaceflight, leading to the ability to grow several generations of crops while on missions.

In addition to paving the way for future space missions, outer space gardening has psychological benefits for the astronauts participating, according to NASA, including increased quality of life and boosted morale — that is, if they’re able to keep track of their prized tomatoes.

The post This is what happens to space tomatoes that get lost on the International Space Station for 8 months appeared first on Business Insider.

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