Just weeks after space ravioli rocketed through Twitter, the embryonic cells of "space mangoes" have begun sprouting on Earth.
Retrieved from a 33-day mission aboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, mango seeds were planted and monitored by scientists in China, in the hopes of improving Earthbound variants of subtropical plants with radiation from space.
Images of the budding mangoes were broadcast on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, with researchers stating their excitement and practical use of produce made from seeds exposed to space radiation.
"Space mangoes are expected to be insect-resistant, of higher quality and provide more output," Peng Longrong, head of the project, reportedly told CCTV, while showing off the baby mangoes in glass jars.
These mango seeds in question were not only exposed to radiation but underwent various unusual "space breeding" conditions forcing them to rapidly adapt genetically to extreme environments.
The People's Republic already produces more than 4 million mangoes every year, lagging far behind neighbouring India, which produces more than 15 million mangoes yearly. As two Asian superpowers are also locked in a tense space race, these space mangoes might help close the mango gap.