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Make space, Australian bush food is out of this world

NASA astronauts will be eating Australian bush foods in outer space if a Victorian pilot is successful.

The Royal Botanic Gardens enlisted students from two schools in Melbourne's outer suburbs to identify, grow and test native bush foods as part of the international Growing Beyond Earth program.

Working in collaboration with NASA, the students will grow the edible plants in a specially designed chamber that replicates the chamber system on the International Space Station.

Given Australian bush foods can grow on impoverished soils and with little water, the hope is astronauts will be able to grow and eat the plants in outer space.

Growing Beyond Earth started in Florida six years ago, with 350 schools across the United States participating in the program, testing more than 180 varieties of edible plants.

US students have successfully identified foods such as dragoon lettuce and extra dwarf pak choi, which are now part of astronauts' diets at the Kennedy Space Centre and International Space Station.

The Victorian students will look at bush foods such as microseris walteri or murnong, an ancient Indigenous staple food that is eight times more nutritious than a potato.

Other bush foods to be tested include carpobrotus rossii (pigface) and tetragonia tetragonioides (Warrigal greens).