Tang and freeze-dried ice cream is fun to consume for about five minutes of your life. When you're 10. But when you’re floating in space, the limited culinary options leave something to be desired. In fact, astronauts on long trips typically don’t eat enough.
That's where SPOT and ROGR come in: a smart growing chamber and gardening robot, respectively, currently being developed by a graduate team at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The goal is to be able to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in the space environment. Not only will that allow astronauts to get some variety in their diet, but it gives them access to living, green, growing life in what is otherwise a sterile, metal box. Astronauts have reported greatly enjoying previous experiments that gave them a chance to tend to plants in space and help something thrive.
Eventually, SPOT and ROGR could help establish greenhouses on Mars to provide sustainable, fresh produce for colonies on the red planet. Check out the latest installment of our series Spaced Out, made possible by Interstellar, to find out how it will all work and see if you can watch it without getting an unnatural craving for fresh, green lettuce. They make it look so good!