Yoshio Makino*, Kanji Ichinose, Masatoshi Yoshimura, Yumi Kawahara, Louis Yuge


The effectiveness of a simulated microgravity environment as a novel method for preserving the freshness of vegetables was investigated. Three types of vegetables were selected: vegetable soybean, mung bean sprouts, and white radish sprouts. These selected vegetables were fixed on a three-dimensional rotary gravity controller, rotated slowly. The selected vegetables were stored at 25°C and 66% of relative humidity for 9, 6, or 5 d while undergoing this process. The simulated microgravity was controlled utilizing a gravity controller around 0 m s-2. The mung bean sprouts stored for 6 d under simulated microgravity conditions maintained higher thickness levels than the vegetable samples stored under normal gravity conditions (9.8 m s-2) for the same duration. The mass of all three items decreased with time without regard to the gravity environment, though the samples stored within the simulated microgravity environment displayed significant mass retention on and after 3 d for mung bean sprout samples and 1 d for white radish sprout samples. In contrast, the mass retention effect was not observed in the vegetable soybean samples. Hence, it was confirmed that the mass retention effect of microgravity was limited to sprout vegetables. As a result of analysis harnessing a mathematical model, assuming that the majority of the mass loss is due to moisture loss, a significant difference in mass reduction coefficient occurs among mung bean sprouts and white radish sprouts due to the microgravity environment, and the mass retention effect of simulated microgravity is quantitatively evaluated utilizing mathematical models. Simulated microgravity, which varies significantly from conventional refrigeration, ethylene control, and modified atmosphere, was demonstrated effective as a novel method for preserving and maintaining the freshness of sprout vegetables. This founding will support long-term space flight missions by prolonging shelf life of sprout vegetables.

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