Lost Tomato Found Eight Months Later on the International Space Station
In a surprising turn of events, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio’s lost dwarf tomato has finally been located on the International Space Station (ISS) more than eight months after it went missing. The discovery was announced by NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli during a livestreamed event celebrating the ISS’ 25th anniversary.
The tomato, which was part of the final harvest for the Veg-05 experiment tended by Rubio, had floated away in March 2023 before he could consume it. Rubio had stored his share of the tomatoes in a Ziploc bag, but it slipped from his grasp in the microgravity environment of the ISS.
The missing tomato soon became an inside joke among the astronauts, and it was publicly discussed by Rubio during an event in space in September to commemorate his unexpected record year in orbit. Rubio jokingly mentioned that he had spent countless hours searching for the tomato and was confident that it would eventually resurface.
The ISS, being larger than a six-bedroom house, presents a unique challenge when it comes to keeping items in place in microgravity. The incident highlights the difficulties that arise in growing plants on the moon or Mars, which the Veggie series of experiments aims to address.
Rubio, who spent a total of 371 days in space, also shared his thoughts on the emotional toll of being away from family and friends for such a lengthy period. He expressed his gratitude for the support and prayers he and his loved ones received during his time in space.
During the livestreamed event, Moghbeli did not provide specific details about where the lost tomato was found or its condition. However, the discovery serves as a reminder of the sometimes whimsical nature of life in space and the ongoing research and experimentation needed to overcome the challenges of long-duration space missions.
As the ISS celebrates its 25th anniversary, incidents like Rubio’s lost tomato remind us of the unexpected and often humorous moments that can occur in the pursuit of scientific exploration and discovery.
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