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Astronaut 'exonerated'; missing tomato found on ISS 8 months later

A tomato went missing on board the International Space Station, but eight months later, the case has been solved.
Astronaut 'exonerated'; missing tomato found on ISS 8 months later
Posted at 12:19 PM, Dec 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-07 14:51:02-05

While celebrating the 25th anniversary of the International Space Station, astronauts revealed that a tomato that got away eight months ago has been found. 

Astronauts have been growing tomatoes on board the space station "to study crop growth, nutrient composition, microbial food safety, flavor, and psychological benefits for the crew onboard the space station while examining how light quality affects these key factors."

"Our good friend Frank Rubio, who headed home, has been blamed for quite a while for eating the tomato. But we can exonerate him. We found the tomato," NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli said Wednesday. 

Andreas Mogensen, who is commanding the ISS crew, said weightlessness makes it challenging to keep control of objects. 

"Whenever you have to find a piece of equipment or a tool in a bag and you have to get that piece of equipment or that tool out without losing stuff in the bag," Mogensen said. "We have all lost items. Luckily, most of them we found near an air vent a few minutes or a couple of hours later, but it is certainly one of the challenges that you really don't get to learn how to cope with until you get up here."

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The tests are seen as important for humans to go to Mars as food sources will need to be renewed given the logistics of resupplying a crew well beyond Earth orbit. 

NASA noted that as they began growing the tomatoes, there was an unexpected drop in humidity on board the flight. NASA said that they added water to the plants, but that led to uneven, patchy growth.

Astronauts were unable to eat the original tomatoes due to their low sample size and additional concerns about potential fungal contamination. 

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