Space station astronauts seek out zero gravity pepper crop

Image copyright NASA Image caption Astronauts Pete Nickolenko and Christina Koch took pictures of their peppers

NASA astronaut Pete Nickolenko and Christina Koch have selected peppers in zero gravity for the first time in space.

They were trying to find out the most efficient way to harvest the crop in orbit and sent the photo to NASA scientists.

“It took hours to find a pulse because it doesn’t have a pulse,” Mr Nickolenko said of the pepper crop.

At the end of this month, the two astronauts will return to Earth with several others.

Earlier in the mission, Ms Koch’s step-daughter sent her some space crystals, with zero gravity images.

“She sent me a pic of some crystals with dots in them. It is the first time in my life that I’ve seen crystals in space,” Ms Koch told BBC News.

“I remember taking it very seriously, because it’s really amazing what we can do.”

On Friday, the Expedition 54 crew set off in their Soyuz MS-04 to the International Space Station.

The Soyuz will return to Earth with five other astronauts and cosmonauts before Nasa astronaut Anne McClain, cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko and two European Space Agency astronauts — Andreas Mogensen and David Saint-Jacques — are picked up by a space shuttle.

It is the ninth time NASA astronauts have flown together on a single mission since the space shuttle program was retired, Nasa said.

After days in space for this mission, NASA astronauts Andrew Feustel and Ricky Arnold are already looking forward to their homecoming to the US.

“Our family is pretty happy to get home for the holidays. Merry Christmas, folks. Go Santa!” Mr Feustel told BBC News on Monday.

Pete Nickolenko and Andrew Feustel have served nine months on the International Space Station during their Expedition 54 mission.

Listen to the full Nasa interview

“We had a lot of tight spacesuits. You see very familiar names on the astronaut identifications. But once you step on the aircraft and you see something totally different, it becomes almost surreal,” Mr Feustel said.

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