Missing tomato on the ISS

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The mystery of a tomato that went missing on the International Space Station (ISS) for months has been solved. The tomato was part of the Veg-05 experiment, a NASA project focusing on growing fruits and vegetables in space. Each astronaut received a share of the tomatoes harvested on March 29, 2023, but astronaut Frank Rubio's share, stored in a Ziploc bag, floated away before he could taste it4710. The tomato was one of only 12 Red Robin dwarf tomatoes successfully germinated and grown to ripeness in space during the Veg-05 experiment7. The experiment marked the first time multiple tomato plants were grown to fruit in space2. The goal of the Veg-05 experiment was 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 factors2. Rubio, who made history in September 2023 with his 371 days in orbit, the longest spaceflight by an American, was jokingly accused of eating the missing tomato1. However, the tomato was found months later, exonerating Rubio14. The exact location where the tomato was found on the ISS and its condition were not specified47. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a rare commodity on the ISS due to their short shelf life and the lack of dedicated refrigeration for food3. The discovery of the missing tomato and the successful cultivation of tomatoes in space are significant steps towards achieving continuous fresh-food production in space, which is crucial for long-duration space missions27.
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