The space station does not steal, but hides: the lost tomato is found!


A proverb that says “The house hides, it doesn’t steal” (which many of us recite when something is suddenly found in the house that was lost days or months ago and then forgotten) also seems to refer to the International Space Station, the “home” of hundreds of astronauts who followed one another. for several decades

Withered but intact! In fact, a tomato grown in the greenhouse of the orbital station was accidentally found and apparently disappeared eight months ago. It’s obviously withered, but it’s still intact. NASA astronauts made the announcement recently during a live event to mark the 25th anniversary of the ISS. This tomato was part of the harvest of an experiment carried out on the ISS, known as “Veg-05”, which studies the growth of crops in space.

The tomato — a relatively small, about 2.5 centimeter, Red Robin type — went missing last March when astronauts on the space station were given a certain amount of tomatoes to keep for themselves. However, NASA asked astronauts not to eat them because it was not certain that there was no fungal contamination, given that microscopic fungi have been found several times on the ISS.

Distraction? At some point, astronaut Frank Rubio let his tomato float, maybe he forgot about the bag for a while, and when he thought he would find it again, nothing could be done: there was no trace of the tomato, maybe it hid in the farthest corners of the space station.

Astronaut Rubio and tomatoes

NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 flight engineer Frank Rubio inspects tomato plants growing on the International Space Station for the XROOTS space botany study. Tomatoes were grown without soil using hydroponic and aeroponic growing techniques to test “space farming” methods to support crews on long-duration spaceflights further from Earth, where resupply missions are impossible.
© Koichi Wakata / Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

And so, on board, the colleagues jokingly began to accuse the American astronaut Rubio of eating her, and that in order to justify her disappearance, he made up a story about a mysterious loss. Rubio, who has since left the station, has always maintained his…innocence, specifying that he ended up devoting hours and hours of his free time on board to hunting tomatoes: now, after being found out, he declared that he finally felt “revenge”.

In history. This tomato, which has now entered history, was first publicly discussed on September 13, 2023, during a ceremony in honor of Rubio, who celebrated the record stay of an American astronaut in orbit.

And then the topic came back into the news a month later when some reporters asked him about the missing tomato after the astronaut returned to Earth.

But, always very serious, Astronaut Rubio always denied that he appropriated her by eating her. So he was right!

What purpose does it serve? About the Veg-05 project: The goal is to study crop growth in space, test nutrients, microbial safety and food taste. Over time, it was possible to grow different types of lettuce, cabbage, mustard and zinnia flowers, because fresh fruits and vegetables in space bring benefits not only to the physical health, but also to the mental health of the entire crew.


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