These Antarctic vegetables were grown without pesticides, daylight, or even soil — but they look absolutely delicious.
Germany’s southernmost workplace, the Neumayer-Station III, has harvested the first crop of Antarctic vegetables. Biologists report that they’ve successfully grown 3.6 kilograms (8 pounds) of salad greens, 18 cucumbers and 70 radishes grown inside a high-tech greenhouse, as temperatures around the research station were plummeting to -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit).
The plants were grown without soil, in a closed-water circle. No outside lighting was used — instead, researchers optimized and used an LED system. The carbon dioxide cycle was also closely monitored.
While this is a solid crop already, researchers are expecting much more in the future. The German Aerospace Center DLR, which coordinates the project, said that in the coming months, they expect to harvest 4-5 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a week.
NASA has already grown delicious vegetables aboard the International Space Station using a somewhat similar system, but the DLR says that they want to grow a much wider range of fruits and veggies, and they also want to create a more substantial harvest.
If we want to go to other planets, we’ll ultimately have to find a way to sustainably grow food on spaceships, or places like the Moon or Mars. This type of mission will prove instrumental to the success of those missions.
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!