As space agencies prepare to send humans to Mars sometime in the 2030s, it has been challenging to figure out how to keep astronauts healthy. A three-year mission off the planet poses many risks to the human body, it is very important to make sure astronauts receive optimal nutrition.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis say they developed genetically modified lettuce that could be grown in space and provide astronauts with what they need to avoid bone loss. Gravity forces the bones in your body to constantly form microfractures and constantly rebuild themselves while regulating calcium in the blood. In space, there is no gravity so that process doesn’t happen and astronauts will begin losing bone mineral density.
UC Davis professor Karen McDonald said “we decided to use lettuce because lettuce is a plant that has been grown on the International Space Station. It’s also a plant that is very productive in terms of producing seeds, … If you grow that plant and harvest seeds, you can generate thousands of seeds.”
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