Earlier this month, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins photographs the first major milestone of the Plant Habitat-02 (PH-02) experiment aboard the International Space Station. The investigation studies the growth of radishes in a microgravity environment. NASA chose the radish because it’s a model plant: both nutritious and edible, having a short cultivation time, and being genetically similar to Arabidopsis, a plant frequently studied in microgravity.
Growing inside its Advanced Plant Habitat for 27 days, the plants require little maintenance from the crew. The growth chamber contains LED lights, a porous clay material, and a controlled system for releasing fertilizer to deliver water, nutrients, and oxygen to the plant’s roots. Cameras and more than 180 sensors in the chamber allow researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to monitor plant growth as well as regulate conditions such as water distribution, moisture levels, and temperature.