Chickpea seeds headed to International Space Station for use in mini-greenhouse

Israeli chickpea seeds will be among the supplies and equipment sent to the International Space Station (ISS) later this month for a series of experiments aimed at controlling the growth of crops via technology.

Contained for optimal growth in a small device called a “miniature greenhouse,” they will be delivered on Feb. 19 as part of Northrop Grumman’s 17th commercial resupply services mission to the ISS, aboard its Cygnus spacecraft. The special greenhouses are well-suited for travel to the moon, which will be the next step of the mission.

The seeds are part of a project called “Space Hummus,” which will test hydroponic techniques for plant growth in zero gravity. A superfood with high nutrition, chickpeas grow quickly and easily, making them ideal for space cultivation.

NASA says it’s looking at ways to provide astronauts with nutrients in a long-lasting, easily absorbed forms, such as through freshly grown fruits and vegetables; the challenge is how to do that in a closed environment without sunlight or Earth’s gravity.

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