NASA announced Friday that it had grown the first chile Peppers in space. The International Space Station astronauts turned the fruit into tacos.
According to the U.S. space agency, the chile peppers were planted for the Plant Habitat-04 investigation.
‘The investigation involved microbial analysis to improve understanding of plant-microbe interactions in space and the crew’s assessment of flavor, texture, and nutrition of the first peppers grown in space,’ NASA said in a statement.
The peppers, which have been growing on the ISS since July, were from the ‘Española Improved’ chile, grown in the famed Hatch Valley of New Mexico.
NASA announced that it had successfully grown the first chile peppers from space.
The ISS Research Twitter account called this “one of our most challenging plant experiments to-date.”
It is a cross of the southern New Mexico’sandia chile’ and a landrace chilile, which can be found in the northern portion of the state.
Most Hatch chiles are eaten when they are green, but the ‘Espanola Improved’ is one of the few that is ‘regularly consumed in both the green and red stages of the pepper’s development,’ NASA said previously.
It was described by ISS Research Twitter account as “one of the most difficult plant experiments to date.”
NASA previously stated that peppers are more difficult to cultivate than other possible space crops, because they take longer for them to germinate, grow and produce fruit.
Megan McArthur is a NASA astronaut who has been onboard the ISS from April. She tweeted that she had picked the chile peppers after which both data and dinner were served
Megan McArthur is a NASA astronaut who has been aboard the ISS from April. She tweeted that, after picking the chile Peppers, both data, and dinner were served.
McArthur tweeted, “After the harvest, I got to taste red chile.”
“Then we filled in surveys (got the data!) Grinning face and smiling eyes
‘Finally, I made my best space tacos yet: fajita beef, rehydrated tomatoes & artichokes, and HATCH CHILE!’
NASA has already successfully grown Chinese cabbage, three types red Russian kale, and zinnia flowers in orbit around Earth.
Certain chile peppers offer advantages when it is time to look for plants that can grow easily in space. They can be pollinated easily and can survive in a carbon dioxide rich environment.
In 2019, NASA announced that the Española chile pepper would be the first fruit grown on the ISS in an effort to look for crops that astronauts could take to Mars.
NASA originally considered growing Hatch peppers instead on the International Space Station.
Unlike Hatch peppers, which grow in the desert, Española chile peppers typically grow at higher altitudes and have a shorter growth period, which makes them much more suitable for being harvested in space.