UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi spends weekend farming in space

Dr Al Neyadi harvests leaves from the space station's plant nursery

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi harvests leaves from the plant nursery aboard the International Space Station. Sultan Al Neyadi X/Twitter
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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi spent some of his penultimate weekend farming in space when he harvested leaves from the plant nursery aboard the orbiting outpost.

Astronauts on the International Space Station grow different kinds of fruits and vegetables, which are then harvested and sent back to scientists on the ground for testing.

Dr Al Neyadi, 42, posted a video of the Advanced Plant Habitat nursery on social media on Monday.

“This is the designated area where numerous fruits and vegetables undergo testing and cultivation,” he said.

“Today, I've gathered a handful of leaves to serve as test samples for examination once sent to Earth.

“The scientists back on our home planet will analyse these samples to understand how microgravity affects plant growth.”

The Advanced Plant Habitat has a lighting system that changes intensity so the plants stay healthy.

There are also cameras placed in the chamber that help scientists monitor the plants.

“Experiencing the act of planting here serves as a pleasant reminder of nature while we exist in the unique environment of space,” said Dr Al Neyadi.

The astronaut harvested tomatoes on the space station in April, which were sent back to Earth for research.

The dwarf vegetables were planted in December on board the station in the miniature greenhouse.

Astronauts have been growing fruits and vegetables in space for many years.

This is vital to meeting the goal of establishing a base on the Moon or other planets and also helps to reduce their dependence on resupply missions sent from Earth.

In August 2015, red romaine lettuce became the first vegetable to be grown in space, proving to be a tastier alternative to the packaged space food astronauts have to eat.

On Sunday, the Emirati astronaut posted a clip of him enjoying honey and bread, plus all the quirks of eating in zero gravity.

Dr Al Neyadi is due to return to Earth on September 1, after completing a six-month science mission.

Updated: August 22, 2023, 12:33 PM