The Future is Here! First Flower Blooms in Space
January 18th, 2016 | by Web Desk
Recently, Scott Kelly, a US Astronaut aboard the International Space Station gave some very exciting news when he tweeted the following:“First ever flower grown in space makes its debut!” Adding the hashtags SpaceFlower, zinnia, and YearInSpace.This is certainly a huge step towards the study of growing life in zero gravity situations.
A blog run by NASA has earlier admitted that they used zinnias not necessarily for aesthetic purposes but to help them understand how flowers develop in microgravity. At the end of December 2015, Mr. Kelly tweeted about some of the zinnias with moldy leaves. However, the recent tweet has brought new hope.
Other plants, like wheat, have been grown in space before. Earlier, Astronaut Don Pettit tried to grow a sunflower seed. While it did germinate and continued to grow, the flowers failed to fully form. He was also able to harvest lettuce and even make a sort of salad out of it. However, flowers are a little bit more complicated as they are more delicate and their structure is different from previous plants. Scientists also think that the successful growing of zinnias will pave the way to growing other useful plants such as tomatoes. Some experts are waiting to see if the zinnias will continue to grow.
As this first flower blooms in space, the NASA Human Research Program believes it can also help enhance long-term science missions in confined or isolated environments such as the ISS. This has already been documented on long-term missions on the Antarctic Stations where there is very few stimuli. Fresh food becomes more important not just biologically, but psychologically as well.While the bringing and growing of plants is not yet an option for most space missions, NASA is looking forward to adding this option in the near future.