This Is The First Flower Ever To Bloom In Space

Posted: Jan 17 2016, 10:54pm CST | by , Updated: Jan 17 2016, 11:15pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

This is the First Flower Ever to Bloom in Space
Credit: Scott Kelly

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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly shows the image of zinnia flower grown aboard ISS. This is the first time a flower has bloomed in outer space

A flower has bloomed in space for the first time ever.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (also a space station gardener) shared the images of first ever flower grown aboard International Space Station. And it’s a beautiful, bright orange and yellow colored zinnia.

“First ever flower grown in space makes its debut.” Kelly announced on Twitter.

Just one month ago, the situation was not looking good when the flower had mold on its leaves and buds. But first ever cosmic flower has finally bloomed and it has paved the way for growing more plants in outer space at microgravity conditions.

“I think we have gained a lot from this, and we are learning both more about plants and fluids and also how better to operate between ground and station. Regardless of final flowering outcome we will have gained a lot.” Dr. Gioia Massa, a member of NASA science team said in a statement.

Zinnia flower is grown on a plant growth facility called “Veggie” which was installed on space station back in 2014. The flower is just the second plant to be grown aboard ISS after red romaine lettuce. Astronomers choose zinnia flower as the next crop because of its unique characteristics.

“The zinnia plant is very different from lettuce,” said Trent Smith, Veggie project manager. “It is more sensitive to environmental parameters and light characteristics. It has a longer growth duration between 60 and 80 days. Thus, it is a more difficult plant to grow, and allowing it to flower, along with the longer growth duration, makes it a good precursor to a tomato plant.

The batch of zinnia flower was activated in mid-November last year. Just two weeks into their growth period, flowers were found covered in mold since the water was leaking in the container. But eventually astronomers sorted out the problem. The issues faced by zinnias aboard ISS offered multitude of learning opportunities for scientists.

“All these things are so rich in information, my head kind of spins to think about what to focus on,” said Smith. “This is perfect. This is really getting us down the road for other crops.”

In the future, scientists are planning to grow tomato plant and the experiment is expected to take place in 2018.

A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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