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. 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 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. 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. 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. 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 (37)
  • averyd-ver
    1/26/2016 - 01:27 p.m.

    I think scientists are experimenting with plant life to figure out how to grow plants in space so they can start speeding up the process of making another planet able to hold life and maybe one day we would move there.

  • lucasl-3-bar
    1/26/2016 - 07:09 p.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space to study the growth of plants outside of Earth. Such knowledge gained by these experiments can decide the ability of plants to grow in space in case of an emergency on Earth. If life on Earth reaches a point where people cannot live there anymore, it is imperative that we have a way to produce food in space or on other planets by using these plants. I was intrigued by the article because it showed a study of plants living in space and how that is important to us and may be even more so in the future.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    1/26/2016 - 08:15 p.m.

    The astronauts might have been able to be growing their first plant in space which scientists had been testing that if plants are able to be grown in space where there is not air or water for the plant that is needed to be growing. The astronauts might have wanted to show people on what had happened after they had saw the plants grow in the greenhouse which scientists might have been astonished by the first bloom of the flower. The scientists might have been able to be getting more plants to be growing out in a space station that plants will be able to grown in a greenhouse on a space station that plants would be able to grow in.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why are scientists experimenting with plant life in space?
    Answer: Because scientists are trying to see if plants would be able to maintain life under conditions.

  • christopherp-2-bar
    1/26/2016 - 09:53 p.m.

    scientists are experimenting with plants in space because growing your one food source can let astranots explore with farther exploration. I think that growing plants in space is grate because astronots can spend more time in space and discover new planets and even more solar systems.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    1/26/2016 - 11:29 p.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life because in the future they think that many people will begin to populate Mars, so they want to make sure that they will be able to sustain life on the planet. As Kelly states in the article, "This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions..." This shows that they are thinking of sending an expedition to Mars and they need to make sure that all life will do well on the planet. I was interested in this article because I love learning about the Universe. I was not surprised by this article because I know that they found water on Mars.

  • josepht-2-bar
    1/27/2016 - 12:10 a.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life because it is essential for the travel to Mars."This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions, Kelly noted." I think it is interesting because I don't know how you can grow plants outer space.

  • katherinec-3-bar
    1/27/2016 - 05:46 p.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space for future expeditions. For example, Scott Kelly, who planted the flower, said, "Watney is the fictitious astronaut-botanist who ends up stranded alone on Mars and grows potatoes in order to survive". Kelly is drawing his inspiration from the Martain movie to make something like this. I found this interesting because I like learning about outer space.

  • karliw-1-bar
    1/27/2016 - 09:08 p.m.

    Scientists are testing out new plant life on space because they need to test out growing plants for an up and coming voyage to Mars, with a slight nod to last years big blockbuster "The Martian". If the astronauts are going to survive in Mars, they need a stable food growing system.

  • collinf-2-bar
    1/28/2016 - 12:06 p.m.

    Scientists are experiencing with plant life in space because "This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions." Plant life will be needed for survival if America or another country decides to colonize Mars.

    I found this article interesting because I like space and I think it would be very cool to live on Mars.

  • oscarb-1-bar
    1/28/2016 - 01:24 p.m.

    The scientists are experimenting with the plant life because they want to test if people can live in space. According to Scott Kelly, "This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions." If humans are too survive on other planets, we most know how and what we can do to grow plant life. The plants are needed for food and air which are essential to life. These experiments are the first of their kind on your way to expanding the reach of humans in space.

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