Gardening will play an important role in future long-term spatial missions, providing astronauts a source of green and fresh green vegetables – and maybe other plant foods – sheltered from home. It may not be the only advantage with gardening in space. As part of a new study, NASA explores if these gardens can also help astronauts handle the isolation of spatial life.
NASA has experienced plants on the international spatial station for a while and the project has proved fruitful. Some astronauts were able to eat the harvested plants and scientists have learned a lot on how to efficiently cultivate green greens in a micro-gravity environment.
That said, there is still a lot of research on the subject and not all this has to do with food production. NASA says it is currently studying if gardening in space will have beneficial effects on the mental health of astronauts, especially if this will contribute to the type of single isolation that comes to living in space.
Research is conducted by Kennedy Space Center Scientist Dr. Gioia Massa and his team of experts, who received the project of the NASA Human Research Program. The effort involves a survey of astronauts that grow plants on the international spatial station, a question involving issues that will contribute to light on the impact of this activity could have on the mood of astronauts.
The study is still ongoing at this stage, with only seven of the 24 astronauts in the survey. However, some preliminary data are available and it notes that all astronauts have considered the activity as significant. Some of the astronauts preferred different activities, while others reported a penchant to cultivate plants and reported to dedicate the leisure time to the project.