The seeds from which these giant veggies grew were fired into space, where they orbited the Earth for two weeks. Once they returned they were cultivated in hothouses, producing the monster specimens seen here.
China, which is behind the space fruit and veg, says they could be the answer to the world’s food crisis. China has been experimenting with space plants since the 1980s.
Previously it has claimed that the near zero gravity conditions – microgravity – have created high-yield rice and wheat plants, and tomatoes and peppers with harvests ten to 20 per cent greater than normal.
The most recent batch of 2,000 seeds was launched into orbit in 2006 on the Shijian 8 satellite. Afterwards they were cultivated and the best specimens selected for further breeding. The results include two-foot cucumhebers and 14lb aubergines. China says its giant fruit and veg have already been sold to Japan, Thailand and Singapore.
Researcher Lo Zhigang admitted he and his colleagues could not explain why time in orbit causes the seeds to mutate. But they suspect exposure to the cosmic radiation that bombards spacecraft in orbit, as well as microgravity, could play a part.