A growing outbreak of European cucumbers is on full display in space.
More than a dozen astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are feeding their European Space Agency (ESA) cucumbers — grown in space by astronauts — to the people on Earth.
The space food is becoming a constant supply source on the ISS, NASA spokeswoman Cheryl Rowe told FoxNews.com, and was foraging to find a new food source in space.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is now the only astronaut growing fresh vegetables in space for them, said Samantha Slater, European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Mission Manager.
NASA astronauts routinely eat food while in space, but it’s not exactly a staple.
“Every time astronauts go up there on missions we talk about feeding the ISS crew,” Slater said. “We’re looking at possibilities to have a vibrant source of new foods.”
The plan is to let Europeans know about the cucumbers they’re growing in space and let them pick a cucumber and “go to their destination and drink it.”
“We really need fresh foods because we grow vegetables in space. I don’t think people realize you get space dust in food, and it’s not the freshest quality,” Cristoforetti told NBC News.
Being able to eat fresh food is crucial, she said. Astronauts on the space station have trouble getting rid of toilet waste as it can often be left behind.
“There are lots of reasons to like food,” Cristoforetti said. “Especially when you are in outer space, it is really important to have fresh food available.”
While astronauts on the ISS can grow fruits and vegetables in space, they aren’t able to harvest them.
The cucumbers are grown in a special environment, but they are obviously still vegetable growers, according to ESA astronaut Olivier Bernier. The green chlorophyll can be seen clearly on the cucumbers.
“When we work on a mission you must be prepared that you will be doing experiments to see how astronauts can live in space,” Cristoforetti said. “We are looking at new ways to serve the astronauts on the ISS.”
All photos ©: ESA/NASA