By Michelle Fabio
If space is truly the final frontier for tomatoes, they can cross that one off the to-do list.
Back in 1984, over 12 million tomato seeds from the George W. Park Seed Company in Greenwood, South Carolina were sent up into space on the Space Shuttle Challenger.
There they had a little space vacation on the Long Duration Expose Facility until they were collected by the crew of Columbia six years later.
As part NASA’s SEEDS (Space Exposed Experiment Developed for Students) program, the seeds were then distributed to over 3 million schoolchildren in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and in 34 foreign countries.
The students were then asked to plant and compare the growth of the space seeds to their Earthy relatives–and no real differences were found, although some students found that the former orbiting seeds were sweeter, juicier, and tastier.
There was at least one notable tragedy, however, in Ontario: “Dear NASA: Hi, my name is Matt. I am in grade 2. I really enjoy growing my plants. Here are my results. My Earth seed did not grow. My space seed grew, but it fell off my desk. It died.”
In August 2007, NASA sent up basil seeds to see how they’ll hold up under no gravity–which to me at least, means something wonderful:
We’re one step closer to a great plate of pasta on the moon.