Me? I like roast aubergines cooked the way Mum makes it with mashed potatoes deep-fried, omelette, and roti. If I travel in space that would be the staple in my tiffin. In my on-board farm would loom large - Aubergines, Potatoes, Wheat, and Onions, and Green Chillies, and Coriander, and ...

But I digress - the ISS, and the powers-that-be instead seem to prefer a random mix. Zucchini, Cress, Maize, Rye, Cotton, Wild Carrot, Lettuce, Radish, Rice, Onions - these are just a few plants studied/cultivated in various space missions. Fungus, and other micro-organisms have been cultivated too.

For now, I'll focus on plants - and my favoured aubergines (+:

What is/are the criteria to select plants for study in space?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is a great question, and I'm curious what NASA and others' selection criteria are. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Sep 26, 2013 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


Looking at the information on what plants were taken in to space, it appears that the criteria include:

  • Size: initially small plants were taken. This makes sense from a weight perspective
  • Well studied: the list of plants aligns well with those studied extensively in universities. Again, this makes sense - it may be easier to identify odd growth in a well studied plant type
  • Growth speed: a large number of the listed plants have rapid growth, making them suitable for relatively short mission timescales, but also having potentially more use in a long term space mission
  • Robust: I don't see any on the list that are considered difficult to grow on Earth. These all seem to be common, fertile, resilient plant types.

The breadth of plants gives us food production, materials (eg cotton), good CO2 scrubbing etc.


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