Bacteria-coated broccoli sent to space

  • Scientists have sent broccoli seeds coated with a healthy dose of good bacteria to space in a quest to find a viable way for astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) to grow their own vegetables — and possibly one day on the Moon or Mars.
  • Six broccoli seeds were aboard the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft that launched this week from Wallops Island, Virginia, as part of a space station cargo resupply mission.
  • Three of the seeds are travelling to space as it is, while the other three were coated with two different species of bacteria, developed at the University of Washington, that can live inside crop plants and improve their growth.
  • These “beneficial” microbes, also called endophytes, may also help plants grow better in extreme low-gravity environments, and where nutrients or water could be lacking.
  • The goal of the experiment is to learn how to grow vegetables in the challenging, microgravity conditions of the space station — and eventually on the Moon and Mars — as human space exploration expands.


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