Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have launched the Plant Habitat-04 (PH-04) experiment, which aims to grow peppers in space for the first time.
The scientists will conduct a microbial analysis of the plants. They will evaluate the relationship between the texture and the taste of the vegetables with the environment in which they grow and the care received during their development.
American astronaut Megan McArthur stated on her Twitter account that growing peppers will be a challenge due to their long germination and growth cycles. She also said she was excited about this experiment, as these fruits are a great source of vitamin C and contain other nutrients that can help supplement the astronauts’ diet.
The astronauts haven’t disclosed what type of pepper they planted as part of the experiment, but McArthur claimed she left a clue in her post.
NASA had stated in April that the pepper seeds would be sent to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Refueling Services mission (CRS-22) to be grown in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH).
The APH is one of three NASA plant growth chambers on the space station. It contains more than 180 sensors and has the ability to regulate humidity levels, temperature, and carbon dioxide concentrations as plants grow inside.
During the experiment, the astronauts will grow peppers in the APH for about four months and will perform two harvests. This will be a challenge that will test the reliability of the various APH systems because peppers take longer to germinate, grow, and develop than the previous space crops that NASA has grown, such as radishes and leafy greens.