If everything goes according to plan, the International Space Station (ISS) will be a little sharper this November.
Researchers hope Española chilli pepper plants ( Capsicum annuum ), which would make pepper the very first fruit grown in space by US astronauts.
"We also looked for varieties that are not too large and yet are very productive in the controlled environments we would use in space," NASA plant physiologist Ray Wheeler told Dylan Bida on Rio Grande Sun .
"Astronauts have often expressed a desire for spicier and tastier foods, which is why it seemed to be good to have a slightly pungent aroma, and many peppers are very high in Vitamin C, which is important for the space diet."
Although there are thousands of different species of chili peppers, Española peppers have been selected in part because they grow at high altitudes, have short growing periods and can be easily pollinated.
] Astronauts and cosmonauts have been successfully breeding plants in space stations since 1
Russian cosmonauts also ate their own spaceships since 2003, but it was not until 2015 that American astronauts got their first taste of space lettuce.
We have now grown many different space vegetables on the ISS, including lettuce, chard, radishes, Chinese cabbage, and peas.
It should be noted that peas are a botanical component of a fruit and were grown by Russians for years in the Russian segment of the ISS. So far, however, no US astronaut has bred a fruit plant in space, which means that later this year, the Española chili pepper could be the first.
Plants have quite a problem with microgravity because their root systems are complex and typically use the earth's gravity to orient themselves.
But astronauts have successfully persuaded plants to grow aboard the ISS, using special types of light and supplementing other techniques to help plants find out which way is "up" and "down."
Already in 2018, a new, almost self-sufficient growth system called The Advanced Plant Habitat was sent to the ISS, which joined the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) to assist the crew in growing fresh food.
This is all important to NASA's ambitious plan to send people to Mars someday. We are looking for a period of between six months and a year to get to Mars, and when the space pioneers are on their way, we can not bring them any more fresh food from Earth.
This does not even mean staying on the Red Planet and then returning home. The cultivation of own food has a high priority.
"We can build all the rockets we want to Mars, but it does not work if we have nothing to eat," said Jacob Torres, horticultural scientist at NASA. opposite Bida.
The researchers are working on a variety of crops in space, especially on a variety of nutrients and vitamins.
"We need to grow enough to supplement the diet," Torres told CNN. "Just like here on earth, we can not live on the same thing."
"Imagine having a fresh pepper to bite after months of eating cardboard," he added.