Scientists in Antarctica announced on April 7, 2018, that they have successfully grown the first crop of vegetables without soil, sunlight, and pesticides
The major breakthrough was achieved using cutting-edge hydroponics technique, which replaced soil with nutrient-rich water and LED lighting to for sunlight. Although, the experiment was carried out on Earth, scientists believe that it will help pave the way for future astronauts to cultivate fresh food on other planets. The German Aerospace Center DLR, which is in charge of coordinating the project, claims that scientists will be able to harvest four to five kilograms of fruit and vegetables from next month.
Investigators working at Germany’s Neumayer Station III research station picked 3.6 kilograms (eight pounds) of salad greens, 18 cucumbers, and 70 radishes. All were grown in a high-tech greenhouse, which were grown at temperatures of negative-4 degrees Fahrenheit. The team aims to grow eight to 11 pounds of fruits and vegetables a week. Furthermore, research team plans to expand their crop varieties in green vegetables. The project began in January when the greenhouse arrived in Antarctica.
Other space research organizations are also focused on developing sustainable crops. For instance, in 2018, NASA reported that the crew of the International Space Station successfully harvested greens. These included mizuna known as spider mustard, red romaine lettuce, and Tokyo Bekana cabbage. However, according to a DLR spokesperson, the Antarctic project promises to produce a much wider range of vegetables. Astronauts have previously cultivated greens on the International Space Station, but this breakthrough could have huge ramifications for potential colonization on the moon or Mars. However, the process of growing and maintaining fresh food supply in an inhospitable world will take years and it will be incredibly important to mankind’s journey into the cosmos.