NASA Researcher Harvests Crops in Antarctica
Jess Bunchek, a plant scientist from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, harvests Mizuna mustard greens inside EDEN ISS, a greenhouse at the Neumayer III station in Antarctica, on April 28, 2021. Bunchek is spending about a year in Antarctica conducting controlled environment plant research in isolated and remote locations as part of a joint mission with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). DLR plans and implements Germany’s national space program and manages EDEN ISS. The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), a German scientific organization with expertise in polar and marine research, operates the Antarctic Neumayer III station, where researchers can live and work year-round despite the harsh environmental conditions.
Mizuna mustard has previously grown on the International Space Station as part of several experiments in NASA’s Vegetable Production System, a plant growth chamber aboard station also known as “Veggie.” Bunchek is growing the leafy green at the EDEN ISS greenhouse in Antarctica, along with other crops that have grown on the space station or will in the future, such as peppers. Food crops grown in closed-loop environments in space will augment packaged food diets for astronauts, helping keep them healthy on long-duration missions and reducing the frequency of resupply missions required from Earth. Testing in high fidelity analogs like EDEN ISS speeds up the research.
Learn more about Bunchek’s research in this mission update from DLR.
Photo credit: Alfred Wegener InstituteLast Updated: May 4, 2021Editor: Linda Herridge