NASA sends New Mexico chile peppers to space | KOB 4
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NASA sends New Mexico chile peppers to space

KOB Web Staff
Updated: June 24, 2020 06:53 PM
Created: June 23, 2020 05:26 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Española native and NMSU graduate is part of a NASA research team that is trying to get plants growing in space. One of those crops is a New Mexican specialty—the green chile.

Jacob Torres is one of the scientists behind the Space Crop Production Lab at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center.

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On Tuesday he led a webinar to show off the work they’re doing with space crops.

“This board here lays out our mission and what we are doing and why we are doing it,” he said.  “It's all related to growing crops to supplement astronauts’ diet in deep space mission and other extraterrestrial bodies like the Moon and Mars.”

Torres explained the science behind growing plants in space on the International Space Station.

“There are no pollinators in space. There's also no bees inside my controlled environment so anything that we grow will need to require no pollination, would be easy to pollinate or self-pollinate,” Torres explained.

As a proud New Mexican, Torres is focusing on our state staple.

“Hatch is a farming community in southern New Mexico, which is famous for its peppers and we're going to send those peppers up to the international space station,” he said.

“Ultimately, there was one pepper that served our purposes really well. One pepper that lived in the confines of the habitat while still giving us food to pick and it’s a pepper called the Española Improved. This is a hybrid pepper between the southern New Mexico Big Jim and the traditional New Mexico Española pepper.”

Torres said this work is a great way to highlight his community.

“Growing peppers is a big step for NASA. It's also a huge positive event for the community in northern New Mexico, Española, which also happens to be my home town.”

The mission is expected to last at least 10 to 15 years.


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