The tomato was found, but the sediment remained
An entire epic has ended on the International Space Station, in which there are secrets, missing results of space experiments and an unfairly accused astronaut. The end of the mysterious story, which lasted several months, was put by the found «remains» a tiny tomato lost by NASA astronaut Frank Rubio after harvesting an extraterrestrial harvest in March 2023.
NASA astronaut Jasmine Moghbeli said on Wednesday (December 6), during a live broadcast dedicated to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ISS:
Our good friend Frank Rubio, who has already gone home, has long been accused of eating a tomato. But we can justify it. We found a tomato.
A minor incident turned into a whole story for Rubio, which became a kind of «family» joke on the ISS. A dwarf Red Robin tomato measuring 2.5 centimeters in diameter was part of the final crop harvested as part of the Veg-05 experiment. Rubio looked after him, overcoming the difficulties of growing him.
Every ISS astronaut received tomato samples after the March 29, 2023 harvest, but Rubio's share of the ziplock bag «floated» before the astronaut could taste the fruits of his labors.
The Missing Tomato was first publicly discussed on September 13, when Rubio held his own event in space, marking a record-breaking stay in orbit for a U.S. astronaut. Then the astronaut said:
I spent so many hours looking for this thing. I'm sure the dried tomato will appear at some point and vindicate me many years from now.
The ISS is larger than a six-bedroom house, and in microgravity, objects can easily fly away and get lost. Reporters asked Rubio about the lost tomato on Oct. 13, about two weeks after he returned safely to Earth. He complained that the tomato was never discovered, despite the fact that he «spent 18 to 20 hours searching for it».