February 24, 2024

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A long-lost space tomato has been found, leading to the purge of a NASA astronaut accused of eating it

A long-lost space tomato has been found, leading to the purge of a NASA astronaut accused of eating it

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio with tomatoes growing on the International Space Station.
Koichi Wakata/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

  • A long-lost space tomato has finally been found on the International Space Station.
  • When Frank Rubio’s tomatoes floated away from him earlier this year, his teammates joked that he actually ate them.
  • The tomatoes were grown as part of a NASA project to study how plants grow in microgravity.

An 8-month-old space mystery has been solved.

NASA astronauts on the International Space Station finally found a wayward tomato grown in space eight months after it first disappeared.

And perhaps no one is happier than Frank Rubio, the astronaut who the crew thought he ate.

in Live interview On Wednesday, a team of astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) shared the news.

The lost Red Robin dwarf tomato was grown in space as part of NASA’s VEG-05 project. The trial, which launched late last year, studies “crop growth, nutrient composition, microbial food safety, flavor, and psychological benefits for the crew on board.” NASA said in a press release in April.

And it’s not just tomatoes that can grow in space. The program has succeeded in growing several types of lettuce, Chinese cabbage, mizuna mustard, red Russian kale, and zinnia flowers, according to NASA.

After harvesting tomatoes last March, each astronaut was given a sample of tomatoes in a Ziploc bag. Space.com reported. The astronauts were told not to eat the fruit because of concerns about possible fungal contamination, according to NASA.

But when one of the astronauts, Frank Rubio, accidentally let his tomato float, his colleagues for months jokingly accused him of ruining it.

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Rubio has since left the station, but now he can prove his innocence.

“Our dear friend Frank Rubio, who is back home, has been blamed for a long time for eating tomatoes,” NASA astronaut Yasmine Moghbeli said during the live broadcast on Wednesday. “But we can clear him. We found the tomatoes.”

Even before the tomato was discovered, Rubio was adamant that he was not a space fruit thief.

“I didn’t eat tomatoes, and I wish I had at this point because I think everyone thinks I did,” Rubio said. In an interview in September. “I spent many hours looking for this thing.”

“I’m sure sundried tomatoes will show up at some point and exonerate me years from now,” he added with a laugh.