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
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The International Space Station now has a bright pop of orange, thanks to commander Scott Kelly's green thumb.
 
Kelly showed off his gardening results, a thriving zinnia with a beautiful orange-yellow bloom, in photos of the flower posted 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 that threatened to kill all the flowers in the space station's mini-greenhouse. Mission Control gave him free rein, and he managed to save some of the crop. This type of autonomous 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 and grows potatoes in order to survive.
 
The space station's plant-growing experiment saw a bumper crop of red romaine lettuce last summer and the space station crew got to sample a few leaves.
 
While this is the first zinnia known to bloom in space, it's not the first space flower.
 
In 2012, space station astronaut Donald Pettit memorably coaxed blooms out of a zucchini plant, blogging 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, aboard the Soviet Salyut space stations of the 1970s and 1980s.
 
These new space zinnias aren't just for looks, because NASA said they're a good precursor to tomato plants, targeted to launch in 2018. The next hothouse crop, coming up soon on a SpaceX supply flight, will be Chinese cabbage and more lettuce.
 
NASA's little greenhouse is known as Veggie, short for Vegetable Production System, which 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 (24)
  • natalier-4-bar
    1/26/2016 - 08:28 p.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space because if plants can exist in space and provide food and oxygen it shows that someday humans can live in space. Commander, Scott Kelly even 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 and grows potatoes in order to survive."(paragraph five). By comparing himself to the Martian Kelly shows that they are trying to grow plants at the space stations so humans can eventually survive in space. The farther they get with experimenting with plants is the sooner humans can live in space. I liked this article. I didn't know they grew plants in space so it was cool to learn about that and the future advancements the space station wants to make.

  • kbeatty-cel
    1/27/2016 - 10:39 a.m.

    This is newsworthy because life within our planet is becoming possible. This is only plants, but plants are a food source. Plant life is another step toward bigger and better growth in space.

  • mirandaf-pay
    1/27/2016 - 10:43 a.m.

    So now that it's possible for plants to be grown in space, I'm just going to wait and see when they're going to start asking for people to go into space and be space vegans.

  • jordanb-pay
    1/27/2016 - 10:44 a.m.

    This is great! If we really are able to grow life in space, then we can probably revive Mars and make a suitable place to live again, if the Earth is destroyed for some reason, god forbid.

  • aaroni-pay
    1/27/2016 - 10:50 a.m.

    I for one absolutely love Botany. Everything about plants and fruits just amaze me. The fact that this is in space is incredible and i would loved to have seen it grow. If there is somehow a job for an "Astronaut Botanist" i would do that in a heartbeat.

  • danellel-pay
    1/27/2016 - 10:55 a.m.

    A flower being grown in space is such an interesting thing. For scientists, it indicates that many other signs of life in space. This also means their is oxygen and water in space which are the main sustaining materials of life.

  • robertj-pay
    1/27/2016 - 10:58 a.m.

    Scientists experimenting with plant will help with sustaining life in space and other planets, and planetoids without constant supply trips from earth. This is exciting to see especially since this will be a large foot forward in space exploration by making long trips more sustainable.

  • ians-pay
    1/27/2016 - 11:00 a.m.

    Since I follow @nasa and @iss (International Space Station) on Instagram this is not news to me. I think that this is amazing! Think of the implications of our new ability to grow plants in space. *Cough cough* (food to Mars and on other long-range space missions) I can't wait to see the results of our attempts to grow fruits or vegetables!

  • justinl-pay
    1/27/2016 - 11:00 a.m.

    I think is an interesting thing that scientists try to experiment plant life in space. If they continue to experimenting on live sources it may lead to amazing space discoveries. It would be out of this world!

  • osajis-pay
    1/27/2016 - 11:08 a.m.

    THis a very excciting scientific discovery now we have a basis for the colonization of other planets.

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