Four pepper plants grew for 137 days in the ISS’s Advanced Plant Habitat as part of an experiment called Plant Habitat-04 (PH-04). Matt Romeyn, principal investigator for PH-04 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, said in the report that PH-04 helped in speeding up the crop production in space “significantly”, with the crew learning to grow the first generally recognized fruiting crop in space within two years.”
The ISS astronauts began growing red and green chile (chili) peppers as part of NASA’s Plant Habitat-04 (PH-04) experiment in which different varieties of food are grown inside the space station for consumption. The Hatch chili pepper seeds were earlier sent to the ISS to be grown in an artificial environment.
Why chili peppers? Because they are high in Vitamin-C, do not need extensive processing and are spicy. Astronauts need such types of foods as their sense of smell and taste gets affected after living for long periods of time in microgravity, an earlier report by Slashgear quoted PH-04 principal investigator Matt Romeyn.
As per Romeyn, growing colourful plants and vegetables in space has helped the astronauts and improved their sense of well being. Their colours and smells have got something to do with that, believes the principal investigator.