Crew members onboard the International Space Station (ISS) may have two new veggies to enjoy with their Thanksgiving dinner—“Red Russian” kale and “Dragoon” lettuce. NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor recently planted the two new crops in the space station’s Veggie plant growth facility as part of NASA’s Veg-03 G experiment. The seeds were sent to the ISS in “plant pillows” containing controlled-release fertilizer together with a special type of clay that increases aeration, and the plant pillows were placed on a root mat in the Veggie facility.
Growing crops on the space station provides valuable information about how plants respond to gravity, which is important for future long-duration space missions. Research on plants in microgravity also allows scientists to gain a better understanding of fundamental plant development processes, which could lead to important agricultural advances back on Earth.
To learn more about plant research on the ISS National Lab, see the related resources below.