First Flower Blooms In Space | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

First Flower Blooms In Space

The first flower to bloom in space has been revealed. Sci & Tech editor Rachel Taylor reports.

NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly recently revealed the first plant to bloom in space. The orange zinnia plant bloomed in the microgravity conditions aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on the 16th of January. Several pictures of the plant have since been tweeted from Kelly’s official twitter account.

One of the orange zinnia flowers grown aboard the International Space Station

One of the orange zinnia flowers grown aboard the International Space Station

The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) is a deployable plant growth unit capable of producing basic crops such as the Red Romaine Lettuce which was harvested in August last year. Veggie’s main function is to support the crew’s food sources with salad-style foods and a recreation tool for the crew, so they can get away from their normal duties.

Veggie is designed to test the effects of the space environment on plants, and whether any crops could be grown to sustain human life
Zinnia’s light and nutrients come from Veggie whilst the temperature and carbon dioxide come from the free air flow. The problem with growing plants in space is the zero gravity environment. Plants have hormones that determine how the roots and shoots grow in response to gravity. Veggie is designed to test the effects of the space environment on plants, and whether any crops could be grown to sustain human life. Additionally, there is hope that research conducted on the space Station can help improve crop maintenance and production on Earth.

Zinnia was chosen for its sensitivity to the environment to better understand space stress. Growing plants is also equally challenging as it has an up to 80 day growth duration, meaning that it has to be constantly monitored.

The experiment is a great way to monitor plants and is a preliminary trial before a possible Mars mission, which would require much larger numbers of crops for a big crew to colonise the planet.

Sci & Tech Editor. Biological Sciences student. Keenly interested in the subjects of plant sciences and genetics. (@Rachel_Taylor95)



Published

24th January 2016 at 8:40 pm



Images from

Scott Kelly - NASA



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