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It's not easy having a green thumb in space.Useful foiblesThe Miami-based garden has identified 106 plant varieties that might do well in space, including hardy cabbages and leafy lettuces.The four-year project is about midway through and is paid for by a $1.24 million grant from NASA.Using trays rigged with lights that mimic the grow boxes used in space, students must tend to the plants and record data on their progress, which eventually gets shared with NASA.Now, there are two Veggie grow boxes at the International Space Station, along with a third, called the Advanced Plant Habitat.According to Massa, a good space plant has to be compact and produce a lot of edible food.Plants also have to do well in a spaceship like the ISS, which has a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius, 40 percent relative humidity, and high carbon dioxide – some 3,000 parts per million.Under a system Massa described as akin to hydroponics but not exactly the same, space plants also have to germinate from a plant pillow with only a small amount of dirt, do well under LED lights and be microbially fairly clean because it is hard to wash vegetables in space.
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