In a humorous turn of events, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio's misplaced tomato, missing since the Veg-05 experiment's harvest on March 29, 2023, was finally found by another ISS crew on December 6, 2023. The 1-inch-wide (2.5 centimetres) Red Robin dwarf tomato, initially stored in a Ziploc bag, floated away during Rubio's attempt to enjoy it.
Rubio, during an ISS live stream in September, joked about the search, saying, "I'm sure the desiccated tomato will show up at some point and vindicate me, years in the future." The vastness of the ISS, equivalent to a six-bedroom house, and microgravity contributed to the tomato's disappearance, highlighting challenges in managing items during space missions.
While Rubio spent considerable time searching for the tomato, it became a light-hearted incident compared to the broader challenges of his extended 371-day mission. Despite the humour, the tomato's loss offers insights into managing unexpected situations during space agriculture experiments, crucial for future lunar and Martian missions as part of NASA's Veggie series.
Rubio's mission wasn't without difficulties, and he shared the emotional toll of spending an extended period away from family and friends. The tomato's recovery adds a quirky note to Rubio's remarkable journey, emphasising the complexities of life and research aboard the International Space Station.
You’ve come this far…
Why not venture a little further into A.S.S. - our exclusive Australian Space Society.
And keep thrusting Australia into the deep unknown…