Scientists based on a space station orbiting the Earth successfully produce a life form grown entirely in space. And then something mysterious happens: the life form in question goes missing. For eight months. And then, after over a half of a year of mystery, the life form surfaces again, encountering the astronauts responsible for its creation. It sounds like the stuff of a horror film — Alien, or that one with Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds. But in this case, the life form is a bit less menacing. Specifically, it’s a tomato.
A space tomato, but still.
As Space.com’s Elizabeth Howell reported, the current crew of the International Space Station revealed the discovery on a live broadcast from the space station earlier this week. The tomato had been grown by Frank Rubio; upon its disappearance, Howell writes, some of his cohorts aboard the ISS believed Rubio had eaten the fruit in question.
“Our good friend Frank Rubio, who headed home [already], has been blamed for quite a while for eating the tomato,” said astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli. “But we can exonerate him. We found the tomato.”
What It’s Like to Be Alone on the International Space StationFormer Navy SEAL Chris Cassidy spent 378 days in space. On his last mission, during COVID, he was one of only three people on the ISS.
The space tomato was very small, and it was divided up between members of the ISS’s crew. Rubio’s own section of the tomato is what vanished; according to Space.com’s reporting, its location — whether somewhere on the station or in Rubio’s stomach — has been the subject of speculation ever since.
“I’m sure the desiccated tomato will show up at some point and vindicate me, years in the future,” Rubio said earlier this year. Turns out that vindication came a little earlier than expected.
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