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The significance of growing herbs in space

Last Updated: August 26, 2020

Written by Professor Naomi KATAYAMA, Nagoya Women's University

Professor Naomi Katayama, Nagoya Women's University
(Credit: Prof. Katayama)

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Let's grow herbs in space Have you ever heard the word herb? Herbs are edible plants. In fact, herbs are plants that can be used as medicines. Let's give an example: Basil, Coriander, Arugula, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, etc.

We guess, isn't there a lot of herbs you have eaten? There herbs not only play a major role on the earth's dining table, but are also essential plants for future space life.

Spacecraft and space stations are small spaces. So we need food that grows in tight spaces with limited air, water and materials. Astronauts perform a variety of tasks on spaceships, space stations, and spacecraft traveling to other stars. Astronauts, of course, eat three meals in space every day. Most of the food comes from the earth.

But, astronauts need a lot of fresh foods rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients to maintain their health in space.

At that time, plants that grow on light, water, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in a small space, and herbs that act like medicines, become very valuable and essential food. Each herb has a very distinctive taste, which is very helpful when seasoning dishes.

(Credit: JAXA)

Herbs also have a unique scent. The herb's taste and odor give it a variety of flavors and aromas. Therefore, we can enjoy various menus in space. The taste and aroma characteristic of each herb actually contains medicinal ingredients that ca be used as medicines. Therefore, it can be used as a medicine by combining herbs.

Since ancient times, there is a word called "medical food source" or "food is medicine". This means that food is equal to medicine. It doesn't work as fast as scientifically made drugs, but it in the long term, taking herbs can help prevent and improve the disease. Therefore, the further away you go from the earth in space, the more herbs become essential plants for space life.

Also, if you stay in space for a long time, you will not be able to see day and night as clearly as you would on Earth. Long nights and long days can occur depending on the location of the spacecraft or space station. Also, if you plan to fly in outer space for a long-time considering migration to Mars, you will not be able to understand the temporal sense of the day from the outside.

However, if you make various dishes using herbs, you will be able to know the day of the week by eating the dishes. Actually, it is the same as traveling on the submarine for a long time into the Sea.

The examples is as follows: Use basil for Monday dishes, Coriander for Tuesday, Arugula for Wednesday, Parsley for Thursday, Rosemary for Friday, Time for Saturday, Sage for Sunday, etc..

(Credit: Prof. Katayama)

In addition, herbs have a very positive effect on the astronaut's mind. Because we grow plants, we can see the time that elapses by looking at the growing plants. Herbal scents have the effect of calming the mind, inducing a good night's sleep, and conversely refreshing and awakening. Of course, by eating, the medicinal components of the herbs can be incorporated into the body to maintain and improve health.

Fresh herbs contain a lot of Vitamin C. We cannot make Vitamin C in our bodies like mice. Therefore, it is necessary to ingest Vitamin C form fresh herbs grown in hydroponics in space.

How it is?
Have you read this story and want to grow herbs?
Let's grow herbs together.
Let's keep a record of the observation of your herbs at that time.
There are surely many your only discoveries.

We are looking forward to hearing your observation record and reports.

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