Space Fungus! Mold Attacks Space Station Plants
Four zinnia plants on the International Space Station are sickly or dead after mold was discovered in the Veggie experiment facility late December, according to NASA. The problem was immediately traced back to excessive water in the experiment, which was addressed. There are still three healthy plants that appear unaffected by the issue.
ISS commander and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly reported the mold to Mission Control Dec. 22 just as Veggie project manager Trent Smith was trying to manage the water problem. In pictures, Smith saw water on the plants a few days before. He told Discovery News he was trying to relay a command from NASA's station operations team to increase fan speed in Veggie, but the mold developed before the command could be put through.
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One solution was, on Christmas Eve, to designate Kelly "commander" of Veggie. Kelly now has more autonomy to make changes to Veggie's conditions if he feels the plants need it.
Kelly is in the middle of a one-year mission on the station and was there when the first crops from Veggie, romaine lettuce, were harvested in August. "There's nobody better positioned than Scott," Smith told Discovery News, saying this decision should cut down on future time delays.