China's astronauts grow vegetables in orbit.

China's Shenzhou 16 astronauts have been growing vegetables aboard the Tiangong space station, as part of plans for future deep space exploration.

Mission commander Jing Haipeng and rookie astros Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao have been aboard Tiangong since late May and are due to return to Earth on Oct. 31, after handing over control of the station to the newly arrived Shenzhou 17 mission crew.

Jing and company have spent time cultivating veggies using two sets of specialized equipment. The first started operation in June and has reaped four batches of lettuce. The second one was put into operation in August for growing cherry tomatoes and green onions.

The China Astronaut Research and Training Center has also set up replicas on Earth, allowing researchers to compare results and more accurately analyze divergences in how plants grow in space and on the ground. This, researchers say, is part of a long-term plan to aid deep space exploration.

Source: www.space.com


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