London: A new EU-funded research project is set to attempt to grow food in space, which may lead to crops being cultivated on the Moon and Mars.
The 10-year project called Time Scale, led by researchers in Norway, will investigate how food plants grow in space and how the plants can help supply space travellers with food and air in the future, Sky News reported.
Researcher Ann-Iren Kittang Jost said that she envisions that they can form the basis for food cultivation on the Moon and Mars sometime in the future.
Jost added that these are just a few preliminary steps and she doesn't want to venture a guess regarding how long it will take before they can be used on a large scale.
Jost continued that they haven't decided which food plant to cultivate yet but have discussed about cherry tomatoes, lettuce or soybeans.
Astronauts need around 30kg of water, food and air each day and despite some recycling of water on the ISS, supplies must be delivered from earth at huge cost.
Jost said that the cultivation of more complex organisms in space conditions required far more research as there is no up or down in the microgravity of the space station.
She added that one of the big challenges is to administer exactly the right amount of water and nutrients to the plants in such little gravity because they have seen that a stationary film of air forms around a plant, so it just stands there breathing the same air.