After having a sumptuous feast of "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce grown in space, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are set to witness flowers blooming on the orbiting laboratory after the New Year.
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NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren has activated the "Veggie" plant growth system and its rooting "pillows" containing Zinnia seeds on the space station.
Zinnia is a genus of plants of the sunflower tribe within the daisy family.
NASA has announced that following the success of a vegetable project, they will begin to grow flowers in an orbiting laboratory. The flowers, which will be zinnias, will provide information about whether or not flowering plants are viable in space, according to NDTV.
"Growing a flowering crop is more challenging than growing a vegetative crop such as lettuce," said Gioia Massa, NASA Kennedy Space Center payload scientist for Veggie." Lighting and other environmental parameters are more critical," Massa added.
Lindgren said that they will use green, blue, and red LED lights for 10 hours a day, activated water, and other nutrients to help with plant growth. They will be on the station for 60 days to monitor their growth.
"Growing the zinnia plants will help advance our knowledge of how plants flower in the Veggie growth system, and will enable fruiting plants like tomatoes to be grown and eaten in space using Veggie as the in-orbit garden," explained Trent Smith, "Veggie" program manager at Kennedy.
Researches said that they hope to find information about the seed stow and germination, as well as whether the pollen is an issue. The hope is that the plants will have a positive impact on crew morale.
"Having fresh food like these available in space could have a positive impact on people's moods and also could provide some protection against radiation in space," said Dr. Ray Wheeler, head of advanced life support activities at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
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The next experiment may feature tomato plants.