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NASA astronaut's name finally cleared as lost tomato resurfaces in space after eight months

The lost tomato mystery of space has finally been resolved after months and months of search by the team in the spaceship.

NASA astronaut's name finally cleared as lost tomato resurfaces in space after eight months
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Rauf Allahverdiyev; Space | Frank Rubio

Nobody likes losing things. It is even more frustrating when these lost items evade discovery forever and become unresolved mysteries. Something similar happened to a tomato in space and became a nationwide query, reports SPACE. The loss of a tomato in space became an inside joke among astronauts, who never shied away from discussing the amusing incident in front of the public. Now at last, after months, the mystery has come to an end. As opposed to the inside joke, it was not stolen but simply got lost in the folds of space. NASA astronaut Frank Rubio's reputation was restored, but the same cannot be said about the tomato's vitality.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Karolina Grabowska
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Karolina Grabowska

The whole incident unfolded when all the International Space Station (ISS) astronauts participated in a Veg-05 study. This study was conducted to have a fresh-food production system in space. It led to the cultivation of several dwarf tomatoes. These crops were distributed amongst the scientists in a Ziploc bag. Unfortunately, Rubio lost his share as it floated away before he could taste it. The public first became aware of the amusing mystery of the missing tomato on September 13 when Rubio had his own event in space, marking an unexpected record year in orbit for a United States astronaut.


In the live stream, he shared how he was at his wit's end looking for the tomato. "I spent so many hours looking for that thing," Rubio joked in September. "I'm sure the desiccated tomato will show up at some point and vindicate me years in the future." It is plausible that despite his best efforts, the astronaut failed to find the tomato because the ISS ship is larger than a six-bedroom house. Whenever things get lost in the spaceship, the protocol dictates that vent intakes should be checked. But these intakes contain things dating back 25 years in which a small tomato could easily get lost. Moreover, Rubio was also busy with many other crucial science experiments on the spaceship. This situation gave people insights into various outcomes to expect while harvesting in the space.


The lost tomato earned a lot of buzz on Earth. After two weeks of Rubio's safe return home, he was asked about the vegetable. He added a humorous touch to his answer and described how he spent "18 to 20 hours of my own time looking for that." After that, he explained, "The reality of the problem, you know—the humidity up there is like 17%. It's probably desiccated to the point where you couldn't tell what it was, and somebody just threw away the bag. Hopefully, somebody will find it someday: a little, shriveled thing."

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After eight months, the elusive tomato was finally discovered. The happy announcement was made by the astronauts on the occasion of ISS' 25th anniversary. "Our good friend Frank Rubio, who headed home [already], has been blamed for quite a while for eating the tomato. But we can exonerate him. We found the tomato," NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli said during a live-streamed event on December 6.

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The mission was not at all easy on Rubio, especially after it went through a delay. In order to deal with the mental impact of the delay, he relied on his close ones and community. He said, "The community around us was just, gosh—they had so much prayers and support. It was really almost overwhelming how much love and support we've received. So from that perspective, it made it incredibly easy."

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