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Earth Science

Scientists Harvest First Vegetables in Antarctic Greenhouse (apnews.com) 83

Scientists in Antarctica have harvested their first crop of vegetables grown without earth, daylight or pesticides as part of a project designed to help astronauts cultivate fresh food on other planets. From a report: Researchers at Germany's Neumayer Station III say they've picked 3.6 kilograms (8 pounds) of salad greens, 18 cucumbers and 70 radishes grown inside a high-tech greenhouse as temperatures outside dropped below -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit). The German Aerospace Center DLR, which coordinates the project, said Thursday that by May scientists hope to harvest 4-5 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a week.
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Scientists Harvest First Vegetables in Antarctic Greenhouse

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 05, 2018 @10:43AM (#56386705)
    Fucking penguins got in and destroyed all my beans....
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday April 05, 2018 @10:50AM (#56386737) Journal
    I saw a documentary that showed an astronaut growing potatoes in his own crap. So it looks like it is has been done before. Why repeat it on earth all over again?
    • Antartcica is one of the least disturbed places on earth with an immense magnifying glass of the impact we humans have on the continent. I overwintered in 2006 and 2007 on SANAE base in teams 45 and 46. Everything that goes in, must come back and the risks of contamination, even though remote, prohibited any growing of anything. No chicken bones were part of the food due to the risk of chicken flu for the bird colonies. Regardless of the laws, in a team of 9 members, with no access to the outside world,
  • Grow lights have been around for a while.

    We used to grow bean sprouts while on long canoe trips. Sprouts are easy to grow, don't take up much space, taste good, and fairly nutritious.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Grow lights have been around for a while.

      Yeah, but really ...

      by May scientists hope to harvest 4-5 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a week

      Could you do that?

      For all y'all still using cubits and hogsheads, that's around 10 pounds of vegetables a week ... and I'd bet the astronauts would be awfully happy to have that much fresh produce every week.

      It's easy to be dismissive until you stop to realize the scale and everything else they're talking about here.

      • Re:Rocket Science (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bigwheel ( 2238516 ) on Thursday April 05, 2018 @11:50AM (#56387193)

        " by May scientists hope to harvest 4-5 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a week

        Could you do that?"

        Yes. I grew up on a small farm that produced several truckloads of vegetables every week. And yes, we started them under grow lights and greenhouses while there was snow on the ground. My father did this with only an 8th grade education.

        Given enough space, heat, and lighting, 10 pounds of vegetables isn't very much. Looking at TFA, the scientist didn't look like he was working in a crammed environment, compared to any other greenhouse. Forgive me for being dismissive, but it's been done before.

    • Not only that, but hydroponically grown vegetables in Antartica have been grown for quite a while as well:

      http://www.spaceref.com/news/v... [spaceref.com]

      Date on the article: 2004

      Come on Slashdot. I know this isn't a breaking news site but ....

    • We used to grow bean sprouts while on long canoe trips. Sprouts are easy to grow, don't take up much space, taste good, and fairly nutritious.

      I'm with you except for the "taste good" part. They're palatable but never once in my life have I ever craved a sprout or thought that they had a great taste. Nice bit of crunch and can add a little fresh but they have less taste than celery and are extremely bland.

  • I thought Americans have lost the digital technology to pick vegetables from plants. I understand we now depend totally on the Mexican migrant digital workers for this essential production. How come these guys did it?

    Looks like it is a German operation. So may be they still have the technology, or they took some Turkish immigrants with them or may be some Syrian refugee.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday April 05, 2018 @10:55AM (#56386767)

    I would expect they would try to grow more calorie per kilogram vegetables then Salad Greens. Sure in industrialized areas, Salad Greens are nice for fillers, because we have no food shortages, so we like the crunch and the fact it will fill us up without extra caloric intake. But in Antarctica, I would put more effort into growing foods that will better sustain the people there, because getting food delivered is expensive and hazardous.

  • When they're regularly growin' maters and taters, I'm in. Heh.
  • Where? What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Thursday April 05, 2018 @11:04AM (#56386817)

    Since the linked-to AP article is mostly just a picture, with nothing on the tech., here you go:

    https://phys.org/news/2018-04-... [phys.org]

    http://www.dlr.de/dlr/en/deskt... [www.dlr.de]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Pretty cool, but maybe not space & cost effective on a spaceship.

    • Radish greens are edible. I wonder if they ate them.
    • I think part of what they're working on is optimizing yield against space and weight of materials, since these are also concerns in Antarctica. I also imagine fresh vegetables would be a premium item down there, especially in winter.
    • Thanks for the links. I was wondering what their power source is, and the Wikipedia article has the answer. Apparently they're turning diesel fuel and a bit of wind into plant growth.

  • Plants grown indoors... under artificial lighting... here on Earth?!

    Color me impressed.

  • They ought to be able to get a huge price premium for rare Antarctic produce.
  • The incredibly sparse linked story was devoid of any relevant details. Apparently the plants take root in the air and spontaneously grow edible plant matter from a combination of nothing and nothing.

    Also, why the effing hell would pesticides even need to be mentioned. In a sterile environment designed to replicate a space station or a habitable fabrication on another planet where the FUCKING FUCKITY FUCK FUCK would the insects come from?!?!? It's like the person who wrote this article was an intern at Mo

    • Re:Food from air! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Thursday April 05, 2018 @11:26AM (#56386981)

      The term "pesticides" also includes herbicides and fungicides.

      If your life depends on successfully growing a monoculture over several years in a sealed tin can, you might need to at least consider having some fungicides on hand. Not to mention, some mites are almost microscopic. Without any natural predators, one pair slipping through might also ruin your day.

      • Thank you Waffle Iron! You provided more novel information than the linked "news" article and you spurred me to learn something new today. Oddly, I had never rigorously defined "pesticide." When you stated it included herbicides and fungicides it instantly made sense, but in a surprising way that let me know I was missing something. So I looked it up. Surprise and joy ensued, again thank you! Repellents are included, as are microbial agents. I had no idea I was washing my hands with pesticide, haha!

        Fr

    • by dargaud ( 518470 )

      Also, why the effing hell would pesticides even need to be mentioned

      Haven't RTFA, but I've grown stuff in Antarctica [gdargaud.net], and in McMurdo they've been growing lots of stuff for a long time and they regularly have problems with the Tobacco mosaic virus [wikipedia.org] as it can be carried by people for a long time.

  • is 900 kcalories
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sweet, just a few years away from some dank space weed.

  • Antarctic? (Score:4, Funny)

    by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Thursday April 05, 2018 @11:49AM (#56387187)

    Researchers at Germany's Neumayer Station III say they've picked 3.6 kilograms (8 pounds) of salad greens, 18 cucumbers and 70 radishes grown inside a high-tech greenhouse as temperatures outside dropped below -20 degrees celsius.

    Only -20C? They should try their experiment in Canada, where we have real winters, eh?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Only -20C?

      I guess the summer is staring to turn into autumn down there.

  • I bet the veggies taste better than the ones from all those Arctic greenhouses in Alaska.
    After all this is the deep South.

  • Without pestacides is a cloyingly idiotic stance. If any insects get free on an alien planet, fully exterminsting them as quickly as possible is the name of the game.

    There is no environmentalist issue here. They need to bring pestacides (i.e. budget for it in transition) just in case. Maybe not much, and something that can be powderized and is safe in a contained space, but they need it.

    • You are the one making an idiotic stance. We are not going to "an alien planet" with our space program. We are only going to have space stations and possibly humans on utterly barren worlds and asteroids in our solar system. There are no known habitable worlds in the universe but Earth thus far. The Kepler planets are merely candidates that could prove uninhabitable for a myriad of reasons, and we won't reach those in the next two centuries.

  • Marijuana dgrowers perfected growing things indoors long ago. Maybe they should hire some? Really though I don't see what's so special about this. We already know you can grow plants indoors. They mention the temperature outside as if that makes a difference growing indoors. I would expect a research station in Antarctica to be able to withstand the weather. And you don't need to use pesticides when growing in a sterile environment. Why is this news?

  • Now we only need to burn some more coal to speed up climate change, and soon those dried-up, sun-burnt deserts will crave for our Antarctic veggies, sold at premium prices!
  • The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station has a nice greenhouse in which fresh food has been grown for ten years or so. I was there a few months back, and ate some of their greens. Yummy! This experiment must be a bit more exotic, otherwise it wouldn't be newsworthy.

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