In an interview this fall after returning to Earth from the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio participated in a small mission Funny story What amazed us: After he harvested one of the first tomatoes grown in space and prepared it for a presentation, the bag and its contents disappeared. With no trace of the fruit, the other astronauts jokingly accused Rubio of eating it. Then, eight months later, at the beginning of December, the missing tomatoes reappeared. Image shared by NASA It now shows that there were actually two tomatoes in the rogue sample – and all things considered, it doesn’t look half bad.
Although leaving tomatoes to rot on the ground is no fun, Rubio tomatoes look a bit dry. “Other than some discoloration, there was no obvious microbial or fungal growth,” NASA wrote in a blog post.
One small step for tomatoes, one giant leap for plant species. 🍅
Two rogue tomatoes were found after roaming the station for nearly a year. NASA astronaut Frank Rubio accidentally lost fruit while harvesting for the XROOTS experiment, a soilless plant experiment. https://t.co/ymAP24fxaX pic.twitter.com/AeIV8i6QKR
– International Space Station Research (ISS_Research) December 14, 2023
NASA has been experimenting with methods of growing food on the International Space Station for years and studying how the space environment affects plant growth. The red dwarf tomatoes were grown as part of a program called the Root In Orbit Test System, or XROOTS, which uses a combination of hydroponic and aeroponic growing techniques instead of soil. Rubio, who was on the International Space Station for a record 371 days before returning in September 2023, harvested a collection of… Tomatoes in March To be returned to Earth and examined for the VEG-05 study.
As for the specimen Rubio saved, which he intended to show to schoolchildren at an event planned by a crew member, the astronaut said the tomato simply disappeared. “I was so confident I stuck it where I was supposed to stick it, and then I came back and it was gone,” he said. Rubio said he spent between eight and 20 hours searching for him, to no avail. Now that they’ve turned up (and have since been eliminated), we’re curious to know where they’ve been hiding all this time. We’ve reached out to NASA and will update this story if we discover more information.
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