Scientists have harvested the first antarctic vegetables in an achievement that researchers are calling the “first harvested Antarctic salad.”
Scientists at Germany’s DLR Institute of Space Systems were successfully able to grow eight pounds of greens, 70 radishes, and 18 cucumbers without soil. Temperatures outside reached -6 degrees fahrenheit.
The harsh Antarctic conditions and high-tech grow system are meant to mimic the steps astronauts will need to take to feed themselves on the moon or Mars.
The project, called EDEN-ISS, began in December 2017 in partnership with The Alfred Wegener Institute, and the Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and several other international groups.
“We have learned a lot about self-sufficient plant breeding in recent weeks, it shows that the Antarctic is an ideal test field for our research,” Project Manager Daniel Schubert said in a statement on the DLR website, originally in German.
Along with serving as a potential test run for growth on the moon and Mars, the harvest could also be of use in harsh climates here on Earth.
Schubert expects the greenhouse will be harvesting with regularity by May this year.
“In May, the DLR researchers are expecting full operation of the container greenhouse, with around four to five kilograms of fresh vegetables being harvested each week.
And apparently the spacey greens don’t taste half bad either.
“It tasted as if we had harvested it fresh in the garden,” station manager Bernhard Gropp, said on the DLR website. “It was special to have the first fresh salad in Antarctica.”