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Growing Food in Space: The Final Frontier


USDA/NASA Research on the International Space Station

Cartoon illustration of an astronaut in space suit carrying box of food.

Sure, space travel is super cool, but there is no shortage of challenges when it comes to space travel and colonization, mainly having enough oxygen, food, and water. Space travel in the future is expected to last from several months to years, and astronauts will need to maintain healthy diets during those extended voyages.

Have you ever wondered how NASA will provide food for astronauts on a really long flight, say to Mars?

Well, scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service are working with NASA to develop sustainable farming techniques and technologies to grow fresh produce while in spaceflight.

Check out these stories to learn how.

How to Feed an Astronaut

Greenhouse agriculture on the planet Mars

ARS, NASA Join Forces To Monitor Earth's Water Supply – ARS scientists have teamed up with NASA to use satellites to monitor the water cycle on Earth, specifically "evapotranspiration" — the amount of water that enters the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration from plants.

Growing Plants in Space – An "Under the Microscope" interview with Dr. Raymond Wheeler, a plant physiologist with NASA's Exploration Research and Technology programs at the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida

ARS Scientists Develop Ever-Flowering Fruit To Feed Astronauts - ARS scientists genetically engineered plum trees to continually flower and produce fruit, offering the potential to grow fresh fruit on long-duration space missions.

Nematodes in Space: The Final Frontier for Little Worms - Researchers at ARS's Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Station sent beneficial nematodes to the International Space Station to study their use as an eco-friendly pest control in space.

Terrestrial Fungus May Be Key To Farming In Space - ARS scientists found that an airborne fungus dramatically accelerates plant growth.

Watch What You Eat … From Space - ARS researchers are working with NASA to develop a new way for astronauts to watch over the fresh foods they will farm on extended space voyages.