A flower blooms – in space This image made available by NASA via Twitter posted on Jan. 17, 2016 by space station commander Scott Kelly, shows a zinnia flower out in the sun at the International Space Station. (Scott Kelly/NASA via AP/Thinkstock)
A flower blooms – in space
Lexile

The International Space Station now has a bright pop of orange. It's thanks to commander Scott Kelly's green thumb.
 
Kelly showed off his gardening results. He grew a thriving zinnia. It has a beautiful orange-yellow bloom. He posted photos of the flower on his Twitter account.
 
"Yes, there are other life forms in space!" Kelly said in a tweet in mid-January.
 
In December, Kelly had to fight off mold. It threatened to kill all the flowers in the space station's mini-greenhouse.  Kelly managed to save some of the crop. This type of independent gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions, Kelly noted.
 
In a nod to last year's blockbuster movie "The Martian," Kelly said, "I'm going to have to channel my inner Mark Watney." Watney is the fictitious astronaut-botanist who ends up stranded alone on Mars. He grows potatoes in order to survive.
 
The space station's plant-growing experiment saw a bumper crop of red romaine lettuce last summer. The space station crew got to sample a few leaves.
 
This is the first zinnia known to bloom in space. But, it's not the first space flower.
 
In 2012, space station astronaut Donald Pettit memorably coaxed blooms out of a zucchini plant. He blogged about his informal experiment in "Diary of a Space Zucchini." He also nurtured Space Sunflower and Space Broccoli.
 
The Russians hold claim to the first flower in space. Flowers were grown aboard the Soviet Salyut space stations of the 1970s and 1980s.
 
These new space zinnias aren't just for looks. NASA said they're a good precursor to tomato plants. Those are targeted to launch in 2018. The next hothouse crop is coming up soon on a SpaceX supply flight. It will be Chinese cabbage and more lettuce.
 
NASA's little greenhouse is known as Veggie. That's short for Vegetable Production System. It was flown to the space station in 2014.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are scientists experimenting with plant life in space?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (14)
  • wileyi-sau
    1/26/2016 - 02:33 p.m.

    There may be other human life but we may not know it.It might sound strange but there are some people left in orbit.

  • John0724-YYCA
    1/26/2016 - 07:00 p.m.

    I nearly thought that it was impossible to plant in space but now I am wrong because they just planted in space. I thin that now any life form on earth could live in other planets because we could grow plants.But I still do think that it is going to be hard to eat in space because doesn't everything float in space. Now we settled how to grow plants but can we settle animals there because I now that people can't live without meat. It will also be hard to plant in space because in space you float and everything else so when you are about to plant the seeds, the seeds might fly off.I still won't live in other plants even though you can plant because you would always have to wear an oxygen mask. I will stick to planet Earth.

  • mattl-bel
    1/28/2016 - 02:03 p.m.

    To see if life can live up in space.

  • sophies-bel
    1/28/2016 - 02:05 p.m.

    To see if one day people could live up in space and survive off of crops they grew.

  • jenniek-bel
    1/28/2016 - 02:05 p.m.

    To see if life can live up in space.


    ~Jennie Krause

  • sarahj-bel
    1/28/2016 - 02:06 p.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life because to see if real life plants and living no things live in space.

  • rachela-bel
    1/28/2016 - 02:08 p.m.

    So they will provide enough food for when maybe astronauts Rome space

  • jolenec-bel
    1/28/2016 - 02:10 p.m.

    They experiment on the stuff up on space because there trying to find out if people can live up there and to find put if the plants can live up there and if they can people can to.

  • anijiahf-wes
    1/28/2016 - 02:33 p.m.

    The scientis are experimenting with plant to see how the will do in space.

  • darianv-3-bar
    1/28/2016 - 07:04 p.m.

    scientists are experimenting with plant life in space because it could be important for life on mars. Kelly says," This type of independent gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions." I like this article because it is cool that plants can grow in space.

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