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)
  • casandrad-pay
    1/27/2016 - 11:09 a.m.

    Scientist are experimenting with plants in space because it is one step closer to being able to have people living on the moon. Earth is not going to last forever with all the humans are doing to it. And as the superior race we will try to inhabit another planet or maybe moons. So being able to have a growing plants allows us to take a further step into the evolution of us living in the rest of the solar system.

  • osajis-pay
    1/27/2016 - 11:15 a.m.

    This is a really interesting discovery, and is great for the furutre of mankind. We are one step closer to being able to settle down on planets other than our own.

  • jordanv-pay
    1/27/2016 - 12:11 p.m.

    With the addition of plant life to space, there will be the ability to stay out there longer, growing their own resources. One day they may even be able to produce their own oxygen. These experiments are a major step, and if we can find more ways to keep plants in space, then we will be advancing much more than we could've without them.

  • ruthiannahs-pay
    1/27/2016 - 12:29 p.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space most likely because of the human races future. Plants need oxygen to stay alive and if the plants can grow in space and develop these features then it is a possibility that life forms will be able to stay in space as well, Though not out in the open.

  • kathrynm-vla
    1/27/2016 - 07:01 p.m.

    Well this could be a great idea my idea is that we could start growing most of the crops we have can start to grow in space which would slow down globle warming and make this world last longer, or we could send abunch of tress into space and start making another world that is sutibale for life, and we could start to find water supplies on or in the planet so when we destroy this world completly more than we already are then we could send alot of people into space and we could reproduse there and start a new planet and we could also send some animals that are needed and I mean needed for life, like Noas ark we only need a few animals and only a few of each one.

  • maxwellc-3-bar
    1/28/2016 - 08:25 p.m.

    Before reading this article, I would have said that scientists are experimenting with plant life in space in order to test the limits of space life and see if Mars or other masses could be colonized or lived on. Though, after, I know that as was stated, "This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions, [one astronaut said.]
    In a nod to last year's blockbuster movie 'The Martian,' [an astronaut aboard the ISS said [that he was going to have to channel his inner Mark Watney. Watney is the fictitious astronaut-botanist who ends up stranded alone on Mars and grows potatoes in order to survive." Basically, this means that in order to be prepared for an emergency that includes surviving on distant places in space, astronauts are trying to test to see if plants will be able to help anyone survive, should something occur. I think this is an important thing that we need to watch out for.

  • delaneyg-mea
    1/29/2016 - 10:14 a.m.

    Scientists are making revolutionary discoveries in the field of botany in space. The purpose for experimenting with plant life aboard the International Space station is to test sustainability of growth in this environment. The astronaut who grew the zinnia in space said that this discovery is very useful and shows promise for other crops to grow and for upcoming Mars Expeditions. Mankind is expanding its surroundings one plant at a time.

  • scarlettc-mea
    1/29/2016 - 10:15 a.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant most likely to get a feel of what can and cannot survive in space for a future reference. If we do ever begin life on adaptable planets such as Mars, it is a great to have an idea of what we have can grow and live off of. Without the experiment, we would probably never know that there is in fact a mold in space that hinders the growth of some plants such as the zinnia.

  • gavinh-mea
    1/29/2016 - 10:15 a.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space so that hey can possibly learn how to grow it on other planets. It is also to see how growing in space affects these plants. One day we may be able to grow plants on other planets with the knowledge we gain from growing them in space.

  • emelya-mea
    1/29/2016 - 12:10 p.m.

    They are experimenting with life on space just in case the carrying capacity on earth gets to much that if needed people could go live in space.

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