Good news for the U.S. Space Force: Personnel will still be able to get a healthy helping of veggies, as space lettuce is as nutritious as Earth lettuce.
According to New Scientist, researchers tested three batches of red lettuce grown on the International Space Station (ISS). The lettuce was grown between 2014 and 2016, and was compared to batches grown on Earth under comparable environmental conditions.
There were more microorganisms on the space lettuce than the Earth lettuce, although this was not unexpected. “Astronauts have their own microflora and then there are just things that live in the environment of a space station,” said Gioia Massa, one of the researchers.
The nutritional value of the space lettuce was very similar to Earth lettuce, according to Massa. “We were a little surprised by these results as we thought the nutrient levels in the plants may accumulate differently while in flight.”
The researchers are now trying additional vegetables, such as cabbage and kale. The findings should be a boon for the burgeoning space industry, and especially for long-term space travel, as it opens the possibility of producing space-grown nutritious food.