China developing vegetable varieties for its space program
Chinese scientists are preparing to grow fresh produce on Mars and the Moon after four different types of vegetables were successfully grown in a simulated version of the “uninhabitable” planets.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua has reported that the vegetables were grown in a “controlled ecological life support system” created by the Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Centre. The 300 cubic metre system housed two astronauts and four different types of plants, balancing water, carbon dioxide and oxygen between them.
Xinhua reported that the system is expected to be used “in the extraterrestrial bases of the Moon and Mars.”
The discovery means that astronauts could soon self-sufficiently supply food and oxygen by “gardening” in space. Further developments of the “controlled ecological life support system” could see animal breeding as a further means of food and “using microbes” to recycle waste, according to Xinhua.
Chinese astronauts plan to land the system on the moon in 2013 as part of further research into humans landing on the moon.