(CNN)Astronauts are harvesting fresh radishes grown in space, a delicious prospect that also could help seed food production efforts for longer-term missions to the moon and Mars.
On Monday, NASA flight engineer Kate Rubins pulled out 20 radish plants grown in the space station's Advanced Plant Habitat, wrapping them in foil for cold storage until they can make the voyage back to Earth next year.
Radishes are the latest type of fresh produce to be successfully grown and harvested in zero gravity, joining "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce, green lettuce, Chinese cabbage, lentils and mustard, according to a NASA fact sheet.
"I've worked on APH since the beginning, and each new crop that we're able to grow brings me great joy because what we learn from them will help NASA send astronauts to Mars and bring them back safely," said Nicole Dufour, the Advanced Plant Habitat program manager at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, in a news release.
Food for future space missions
Back on the ground, scientists at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are growing radishes in a control group set for harvest on December 15. The researchers will compare the space-grown radishes to the veggies grown on Earth, checking on how space produce measures up on providing the minerals and nutrients astronauts need as they prepare for longer trips.
Meanwhile, astronauts will repeat the radish experiment in the heavens, planting and harvesting another round of radish crop to give scientists more data to draw from.