The first flowers to ever grow in space are blooming on the International Space Station today. Despite fears of over-watering, the crew coaxed the
zinnias into a burst of colour in their zero-g vegetable garden.
Zinnias are an edible flowering plant that are easy to grow and maintain. It has become the second plant to be tested in the ISS's hydroponic
VEGGIE lab. The picture and video below
highlight the crew's first successful attempt at growing red romaine space lettuce.
This is another step in the right direction and considered a major success. They were concerned that they had over watered both plants while they were
showing signs of dehydration.
They almost didn't make it…
“Our plants aren't looking too good,” NASA’s Scott Kelly, the ISS commander, reported Dec. 27 on Twitter. “Would be a problem on Mars. I'm
going to have to channel my inner Mark Watney.”
Watering plants in space is no easy task. The chamber used to grow these plants lacks an active irrigation system so water has to be injected into
seed “pillows” in order to provide proper moisture and nutrients.
This tiny sensor measures electrical pulses, creating a proxy for determining leaf rigidity and thus its general health and need for
Only three of six plants have flourished with only one developing a flowering bud. The other three are not doing so well and its just as important to
find out why. The age and integrity of the seed itself is likely to blame.
“The leafy greens, they’re pretty easy,” said Gioia Massa, lead scientist for the Veggie project at KSC. “But when we’re talking
tomatoes, which will take maybe 90 days, that system needs to really provide enough water for the plants over a long period of time.”
Kelly says that not only is there a nutritional aspect, there is a psychological one as well. They are a brilliant green compared to the monotonous
backdrop of colors aboard the ISS and the fact that these plants are living and being taken care of must certainly soften the harsh reality of being
isolated in space.
Congratulations team! Not only have you proven to be space farmers, you may one day help design and build an artificial atmosphere capable of
supporting life. I hope I'm lucky enough to be "there" when it happens.
edit on 17-1-2016 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)
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