Humble Radish Survives 30 Minutes In The Vacuum Of Space

Humble Radish Survives 30 Minutes In The Vacuum Of Space

Radish Log, 2011.15: Took those bastards 30 minutes in a vacuum to finally wilt me. Thirty minutes in hell, or 29 minutes longer than that human sap back in ’65. I’m king of the world and I’m just a radish.

What the hell is that radish talking about, you ask? It’s actually pretty simple, and not quite as corny as that lead would suggest. Honest!

NASA scientists, hoping to learn a bit more about how food behaves in a vacuum, subjected a variety of vegetables to a sudden vacuum and then sat back to record the results. Surprisingly, the 20-day old radish, lettuce and wheat plants seemed largely unaffected by a 30-minute exposure. A vacuum, so horrifically awful to the human body after just 15 seconds or so, did not stop the plants from recovering and growing once they were returned to normal conditions.

In fact, after exposure the plants continued to grow just fine until the moment they were harvested one week later. A control group, grown and harvested normally, looked and weighed about the same as the vacuum group. This is great news for future space voyages, should their cargo become exposed to a vacuum during transit, or to extremely low air pressure on the surface of Mars.

Plants are “very plastic and resilient,” said Texas A&M researcher Fred Davies. No doubt he and the rest of his team enjoyed that resilient radish in a rather tasty salad when all was said and done. [New Scientist]