Thomas Pesquet and his colleagues were able to harvest the peppers grown on board the ISS. Enough to allow yourself a well-deserved festive meal.
Last July, we told you about a NASA program which involves growing peppers aboard the ISS. These have just reached maturity, and the astronauts, including Thomas Pesquet, were able to taste them in delicious little dishes concocted on the spot.
It was in a tweet spotted by La Dépêche that the latter announced the great news, with a short video in which we see a few green peppers floating in the middle of a module. Some of these beautiful specimens ended up directly on the astronauts’ plates… or rather in their tortillas. Because according to a second tweet, posted this time by Megan Mc Arthur, they came to garnish a series of very appetizing tacos.
Harvesting the peppers, finally, after watching them grow for months. Nice to have local products but 🌶🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/Zygp6B3aoJ
— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) November 3, 2021
The rest of the batch will soon make their way to Earth, where NASA biologists eagerly await them. But unlike astronauts, they will be strictly prohibited from consuming them. Instead, they will study from all angles. They will compare them in particular to other peppers of the same species, but cultivated on Earth. They will thus be able to collect a lot of information on the growth of plants in microgravity.
Because under its anecdotal air, this experiment called PH-04 is actually a resounding success for NASA. It’s no secret that growing plants in the middle of the vacuum of space comes with many challenges. This is even more true for chili peppers. They aret much more demanding que salads and other vegetables that have already grown on board the ISS. By the admission of our national astronaut, it is even the “Most complex vegetables ever grown in space”.
Peppers worth their weight in gold
But the game is well worth the candle. These peppers are real nuggets from a nutritional point of view. They packed with vitamins C and other essential nutrients to our metabolism. In addition, they are easy to prepare and store, two key points knowing the limits of the ISS. But their benefits do not end there: they are precious allies on the plate, but also in the head.
Friday Feasting! After the harvest, we got to taste red and green chile. Then we filled out surveys (got to have the data! 😁). Finally, I made my best space tacos yet: fajita beef, rehydrated tomatoes & artichokes, and HATCH CHILE! https://t.co/pzvS5A6z5u pic.twitter.com/fJ8yLZuhZS
— Megan McArthur (@Astro_Megan) October 29, 2021
Indeed, it is now well established that a tasty, balanced and varied diet contributes to psychological well-being. But under microgravity conditions, astronauts tend to temporarily lose some of their taste and smell. Strong tasting foods like chilli can therefore play a role. natural antidepressant, which is of paramount importance during longer missions. “To send people to Mars and bring them back to Earth, the most nutritious food won’t be enough”Says LaShelle Spencer, who leads the project team. “You will also need the tastiest!”, he insists.
But the impact of plants doesn’t stop there. In this environment by definition sanitized and not really fitted out for comfort, these smells and colors can make a real difference on a psychological level. NASA also believes that spending time caring for these few plants could also positively affect astronaut morale. Those of you with a green thumb can attest to this!