After waiting eight long months, the mystery of a missing space-grown tomato has finally been solved. Freshly cultivated vegetables are a delight for astronauts who spend months in space. For the first time while harvesting on the International Space Station (ISS), astronaut Frank Rubio lost one of the tomatoes. Crewmembers joked that Rubio might have eaten the tomato. However, a recent NASA live broadcast revealed the reality behind 'Lost Space Tomato'.
While on a live broadcast, astronauts aboard the ISS were asked whether there was anything they had lost and were looking for. In response, one astronaut said, "Well, we might have found something that someone had been looking for quite a while. Our close friend Frank Rubio, who returned home, had been blamed for eating the tomato for quite some time, but we can now exonerate him. We found the tomato."
Astronaut Frank Rubio on lost tomato
During his October media event, Astronaut Rubio said, "I put the tomato in a small bag, and one of my crewmates was doing an event with some schoolkids, and I thought it'd be cool to show the kids, saying 'Hey guys, this is the first tomato harvested in space'." Rubio further said, "I was pretty confident that I Velcroed it where I was supposed to Velcro it, and then I came back, and it was gone."
When asked about the lost tomato, Rubio responded, "Unfortunately, because it's human nature, many think, 'He probably ate the tomato.' And I wanted to find it to show that I did not consume the tomato. It probably desiccated to the point where you couldn't tell what it was."
Following reports, Rubio spent 371 days on the space station, setting records as the US astronaut who spent the longest in microgravity.
According to NASA, the tomatoes were produced without soil using hydroponic and aeroponic nutrition techniques to show space agricultural technologies for sustaining people on long-term space trips farther away from Earth, where resupply missions become unusual.