NASA features horticulture in its ISS photos of the year

NASA singled out a chili pepper project and another in which astronauts cultivated bok choy among the 25 photos on its web post “Best Space Station Science Pictures of 2021.”

The space agency double-dipped on the chilis, presenting two photos. In one of them, astronaut Kayla Barron floats, smiling, in front of the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), where a luscious-looking batch of red chili peppers awaits harvesting. In the second photo, astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough, Akihiko Hoshide, and Megan McArthur show off another lot of both red and green chilies which they helped to grow, also in the APH.

The APH is one of the more sophisticated of the numerous horticultural lighting projects on the ISS, which orbits Earth every 90 minutes, or about 16 times a day. It offers a rich spectral content delivered by specially-tuned LEDs inside a closed chamber. We’ve reported on its use in growing radishes and in its role in studying lignin, a natural polymer that provides a plant with structure and rigidity.

NASA has grown a number of species inside the APH, including dwarf wheat as well as cabbage- and mustard-like plants in the Arabidopsis genus, which includes thale cress.

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