In 2018 the Eu:CROPIS (Euglena and Combined Regenerative Organic-Food Production in space) satellite launched on a SpaceX Falcon9 rocket into space. The satellite was equipped with two small greenhouses to grow tomatoes in space. You can read up on the project in one of my previous articles. Now the mission has come to an end and I wanted to share the results with you.
I wish I'd be able to tell you about tomatoes that grew in space - 600 km far away from our home. However, there was a technical issue with the experiment. After a few weeks in space, a software update inhibited smooth communication with the greenhouses, which switched to a safe mode after the update. Unfortunately, the experts were not able to resume communication with the satellite. As a result, the irrigation didn't start and the tomato seeds weren't able to germinate.
Even if this is regrettable, as Jens Hauslage, the principal investigator of the experiment stated, "we can say that the principle works because the ground-based model is functional, and through our work on Eu:CROPIS we have developed a long-term testbed for biological research in space."Especially in science, a non-successful experiment is never a failure. Eu:CROPIS eased the way for future experiments and taught valuable lessons for all parties involved. Hopefully, it won't take long until I can tell you about the launch of the next compact satellite with tomato seeds that germinated in space.
Sources and further reading