NASA shares photo of how tomatoes that went missing for 8 months now look

Now we know what the shelf life is for vegetables in space.
  • Two tomatoes grown in space went missing last year
  • Astronaut Frank Rubio misplaced them, sparking a search party
  • Eight months later, they’ve been found, and their progression is surprising

Published on Dec 19, 2023 at 4:59PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Dec 20, 2023 at 2:11PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones
NASA solves the case of the missing space tomatoes

NASA has solved the case of the missing space tomatoes.

An astronaut started the mystery after misplacing two of the vegetables in the International Space Station.

Now, eight months later, they’ve been found.

And their development is quite surprising.

READ MORE: Watch SpaceX Falcon 9’s amazing liftoff

The ISS’s eXposed Root On-Orbit Test System (XROOTS) is a game changer for long-distance space missions.

It also provides crucial insights for the preparation to live on other planets, like Mars.

The system allows astronauts to grow fresh vegetables at the station.

Besides providing food that isn’t dehydrated, it’s also good for morale and the astronauts’ mental health.

Frank Rubio, who holds the record for the longest space trip by an American, spent many of his 371 days in space tending to the vegetable garden.

The system grows plants without soil, by using hydroponic and aeroponic technologies.

One day Rubio plucked two tomatoes, put them in a plastic bag, and then never saw them again.

“I was pretty confident that I Velcroed it where I was supposed to Velcro it, but when I came back it was gone,” he said.

He spent between eight and 20 hours of his time searching for the misplaced tomatoes.

“I wanted to find it so I could prove I didn’t eat the tomato,” he said.

Obviously vegetables are precious property up in space.

Rubio eventually headed back to Earth, after setting a record he never intended to.

Now, his crew has closed the case.

“We can exonerate him; we found the tomatoes,” they said in a video statement.

After a few months, it was expected that the tomatoes would have decomposed significantly.

But they displayed no fungal growth whatsoever.

The tomatoes were still in the bag, squished and dehydrated but still holding their color.

Rather than returning them to Earth to be studied, these miraculous and infamous vegetables are now in a bin somewhere up in space.

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