Later this month, Israeli chickpea seeds will be included in Northrop Grumman’s service mission to the International Space Station (ISS), along with other supplies and equipment. They will be contained in a “miniature greenhouse,” designed to ensure their optimal growth in space. This “space hummus” mission— a collaborative effort of Israeli and American scientists and institutions—is just one part of a series of experiments aimed at growing crops in space colonies:
NASA said it is looking at ways to provide astronauts with nutrients in a long-lasting, easily absorbed form, such as through freshly grown fruits and vegetables; the challenge is how to do that in a closed environment without sunlight or earth’s gravity.
Scientists will conduct experiments on the ISS using special LEDs to see how well plant growth can be controlled, remotely observing and controlling root growth through video and still images. The goal is to maximize productivity and allow efficient management of resources on future space colonies on the moon and Mars.
The team believes that perfecting techniques for control—part of a field called synthetic biology—could be essential to growing crops in a space station or on the moon and other planets.
The experiments . . .will receive assistance from Yeruham Science Center high-school students and be performed in part by the Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe.