Lashelle Spencer, plant scientist with the Laboratory Support Services and Operations (LASSO) contract at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, takes measurements on ‘Red Robin’ dwarf tomato plants on Jan. 10, 2020, inside the Plant Processing Area in the spaceport’s Space Station Processing Facility.
The tomatoes are growing from seeds that have been exposed to simulated solar particle radiation. The plants’ edible mass and nutrients will be measured and compared to those of control plants, grown from non-irradiated seeds.
The project was designed to confirm that nutritious, high-quality produce can be reliably grown in deep space, or to provide a baseline to guide development of countermeasures to protect future crop foods from radiation during missions beyond low-Earth orbit. The investigation on space radiation impact on seeds and crop production also will be carried on the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) platform outside the station, supported NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the Space Biology Program, and potentially on future beyond-low-Earth-orbit platforms.