Space tomatoes unveiled

Scientists have developed dwarf tomato plants enhanced with antioxidants to support astronauts’ diets during extended missions and to mitigate the impact of cosmic radiation on the plants

The Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) has announced advancements in space agriculture.

ENEA has developed dwarf tomato plants enriched with antioxidant molecules suitable for astronauts’ long term missions.

These tomatoes are also engineered to withstand the effects of cosmic radiation encountered in space.

The research, conducted under projects funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), marks significant progress in sustainable food production for space exploration.

The findings, published in scientific journals, highlight the potential for bioengineered crops to support human life in extraterrestrial environments.

The ENEA team utilised specialised facilities to simulate space conditions and assess the performance of these biofortified tomatoes.

Collaborative efforts with academic institutions have contributed to enhancing the nutritional value and resilience of these plants.

Silvia Massa of the ENEA Biotechnology Laboratory, said: “In the roadmap of human exploration of deep space, where the Moon is a fundamental step toward Mars, astronauts will have to rely only on the available resources.

“Plants will follow the space pioneers in the so called bioregenerative life support systems and will support life in future space outposts by providing fresh and healthy food, making astronauts independent of supplies from Earth and representing the main source of high-value-added molecules, such as antioxidants and biopharmaceuticals, as well.”

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