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back to article ISS astronauts to grow tomatoes and rice …. IN SPAAAAACE

Plants grown aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have produced food that is entirely safe to eat, even after several generations of propagation, Russian scientists have revealed. Reports from Russia suggest Margarita Levinskikh, a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Problems who has form dating back to the MIR …

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BOVINES IN SPACE!!!!

Zero Gravity Cattle herding anyone? Also brings new elements of difficulty into cow tipping.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BOVINES IN SPACE!!!!

A slaughterhouse in spaaaaaace.

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Re: BOVINES IN SPACE!!!!

If you assume a spherical cow the tipping becomes much simpler.

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Re: BOVINES IN SPACE!!!!

With a spherical cow the tipping is impossible (or more impossible), since there is no "up". Which is further compounded by the lack of an "up" in space, I suppose.

Which the farmer in me says is a good thing: cattle generally aren't too forgiving of falling over.

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Coat

Re: BOVINES IN SPACE!!!!

You would need to provide the aforementioned bovine with a food source thereby bringing a whole new meaning to astroturf.

It's the space suit with the lasso and spurs.

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Happy

Re: BOVINES IN SPACE!!!!

Use square pigs instead!

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Anonymous Coward

Pot In Space

"Tomato plant," usually a term to mean "growing pot." :D

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Re: Pot In Space

You have to go outside for a bifta, but the space-suits stop hotbox quite easily.

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Re: Pot In Space

Welol, yeah. Hydroponics was originally invented for growing crops in space. Nowadays, of course, it's mostly used by space cadets to get themselves into orbit .....

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Re: Pot In Space

Did you never read any 1950's or '60's SF?

There were ship's captains with cigars, ciggies and pipes.

I even remember one wheere there was space in the helmet for a pipe to be smoked.

No need to pop outside to the designated smoking area -- vapouriser with big bag.

The one and only reason I might consider the pointless sub-orbital Virgin Express -- but I'd still want a couple of hours at least to gawp.

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Re: Pot In Space

Successful research, then.

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Of course they are safe.

More ridiculous "research" from the ISS.

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Re: Of course they are safe.

Radiation could have damaged the dna of the plants. Micro-gravity could have affected how they grow. There's a whole bunch of things to consider like how much water they need. How fertiliser affects growth rate etc etc.

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Facepalm

Re: Of course they are safe.

How is that ofcourse?? And how is it rediculous? For all we now, the change in gravity could affect how the roots transport certain chemicals to the leafs, causing them too be too acidic or toxic or whatever for human consumption. It's not rediculous, its essential research.

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Boffin

Re: Of course they are safe.

@ Vociferus

You have obviously never worked with any sort of space based plant research project so really you should keep your mouth shut as you dont know what your talking about.

The space environment causes dramatic changes in the way plants grow and react to various stimuli. Different chemicals are produced or are produced in greater quantities in space comapred to terrestrial plants and as such small variations in the concentrations of chemicals in the plants and their seeds/fruits can turn something which is perfectly harmless (and quite tasty) on Earth into something quite poisonous in space. There are also the effects of various bacteria which react very differently under space environments, which can render the output of plants dangerous even when the plants themselves are not.

So frankly your assertion that this is useless research could not be further off base. This is great work from the Russians and the ISS to produce strains of plants which can grow (and multiply, which is also a huge problem of the space environment) in zero gravity. Well done those plant boffins!

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Re: Of course they are safe.

> Radiation could have damaged the dna of the plants.

No, not really.

> Micro-gravity could have affected how they grow.

It does affect how they grow, but it does not make them toxic.

> There's a whole bunch of things to consider like how much water they need. How fertiliser affects growth rate etc etc.

There really isn't anything of interest there -- the basic physiology of the plant hasn't changed -- and certainly there is nothing wrt the safety of the plant.

If the research had been aimed at developing the technology then it might have had some merit, but the safety of the produce? Junk science.

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Re: Of course they are safe.

> You have obviously never worked with any sort of space based plant research --- small variations in the concentrations of chemicals in the plants and their seeds/fruits can turn something which is perfectly harmless (and quite tasty) on Earth into something quite poisonous in space.

Give me ONE single example of this.

> produce strains of plants which can grow (and multiply---) in zero gravity

If billed as such, i.e. straight-up product development, then the "research" might have had some merit -- but what's in reality is more pedestrian junk science from the long line of pedestrian junk science produced by the ISS is billed as important food-safety research.

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Re: Of course they are safe.

"> Radiation could have damaged the dna of the plants.

No, not really."

Do you have the details of any papers which would back this assertion up? (Anything written by Stan Lee does not count).

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Boffin

Re: Of course they are safe.

>>You have obviously never worked with any sort of space based plant research --- small variations in the concentrations of chemicals in the plants and their seeds/fruits can turn something which is perfectly harmless (and quite tasty) on Earth into something quite poisonous in space.

>Give me ONE single example of this.

Their next batch of test subjects: the Nightshade Family (Bell peppers and tomatoes) which grow some fairly interesting alkalies in the leaves & stems, if the micro-gravity causes them to produce the alkalies in the fruit, we may have a problem. If not, I'm guessing the next research plant will be potatoes; to see how micro-gravity affect tubers. Also to verify the Nightshade findings, as potatoes are also a member)

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Re: Of course they are safe.

> Do you have the details of any papers which would back this assertion up?

Yeah, tons. It's not like it's hard to subject seeds to radiation, or like wasn't a big research subject in the 50's. There's even some characteristically pedestrian crap from the ISS: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1134/S1022795407080066

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Re: Of course they are safe.

> Their next batch of test subjects

...are not examples of this, and there is zero reason to think they would be.

The ISS was never built to do science, and god knows it's done precious little of any value, but that's just all the more reason for media to NOT breathlessly repeat every inanity NASA releases.

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Re: Of course they are safe.

So you are an expert on botanical development, and you know that gravity plays no part in what substances end up in the root, versus the leaves, versus the stem?

I admit it's long odds that micro-gravity would cause a tomato fruit to be toxic, or a potato's tubers; but I think it would ruin any space-farer's day to find their ketchup & chips spiked with atropine.

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@Vociferous Re: Of course they are safe.

Rhubarb!

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Hope that's not a typo...

Oh, "plutonian"! I got worried there for a sec.

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Remeber folks tomatoes were shunned as people thought they were poisonous

But I've got to say "About bloody time."

If you're serious about long term living in space (or trips beyond the Moon) and don't want to leave a trail of ready meal packs this is something (or something like it) that has to be done.

Well done.

.

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Why no

Pork Chops IN SPAAAAAACE?

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"Onboard systems will need a tweak to cope with the gases required and produced by the extra plants."

So Required=Co2 Produced =O2 right? sounds like a win win situation to me!

Seriously cool work though! Dwarf Wheat, Japanese Leaf, Capsicum = Noodle soup, yum

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Plants make CO2 as part of the cellular respiration, during the day the photosynthesis producing oxygen overwhelms this, but when it's dark they are net producers of CO2, and many plants require light cycling to mature.

That's a bit simplistic, but it's been 30 odd years since I studied the Calvin cycle, and I hated it back then.

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Meh

A useful rule is "First we test, then we trust."

No it should not be dangerous.

But I wonder if anyone's read the short story (by CM Cornbluth IIRC) called "Saffrey amongst the immortals."

College professor at minor school dreams up a series of get rich quick schemes. One is to try mushroom preservation by exposing them to a dental Xray machine.

He gets famous, having created a mutated botulism strain that is much more dangerous than any previously known.

He is it's first victim.

Couldn't happen IRL?

Want to bet your life on that?

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if an astronaut gets a craving for a burger...

I've tried several varieties of non-meat, simulated burgers and -- all cheap laffs aside -- the one that came closest to a real burger was made from textured protein and hemp.

Still, tomatoes, rice and dwarf wheat, and entirely edible -- sounds like good news for eventual long-haul crews headed for Mars.

Next -- seedless "hydro"? Heh.

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Unhappy

Re: if an astronaut gets a craving for a burger...

"I've tried several varieties of non-meat, simulated burgers and -- all cheap laffs aside -- the one that came closest to a real burger was made from textured protein and hemp."

Umm.

I think right now this is still more of a supplement than a replacement.

So burgers are still on the menu.

But look at the numbers. Today it costs 5Kg/person/day to support a 'naut in orbit.

I'm amazed closed cycle life support work did not start research years ago.

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Coat

In space...

...no one can hear you puree.

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Childcatcher

When are they going to start growing new people in spaaaace?

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Holmes

Shirley..........Inquiring minds like to know

With the lack of gravitational influence the fruit or tuber does not form to the same extent as on Earth?

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That's NOT

Plutonian.

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