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, 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)
  • ellans-1-bar
    1/28/2016 - 02:38 p.m.

    Scientist are experimenting plant life in space for the future trip to mars. This article stated, "This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions." Growing plant life up in space can help astronauts survive in space and on their expeditions. I think this article is interesting, because it shows that people are testing the limits, so they discover new things.

  • audreyv-4-bar
    1/28/2016 - 07:35 p.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space, because it will be necessary during the Mars expedition. "This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions, Kelly noted."

    I found this article very interesting, because it shows how technology today has advanced so greatly compared to the technology that we had
    long ago.

  • avab-4-bar
    1/28/2016 - 07:47 p.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space because some people are going to be sent to Mars, to see if the empty planet could be any use to Earth. Scientists are testing to see if crops would grow in space, and if they did, people could farm on Mars and hopefully, soon, form a new place to live.

    I found this article very interesting because we had talked about some of this stuff in other classes and I find interest in this topic. I feel that if crops can grow and survive, if we ever go to Mars, we may have a good chance of reproduction and hopefully another planet to start life again on. This article surprised me, because this is a huge step for us. If life can grow and stay alive in space, already living things should do the same. This new discovery is creating the future and remaking history. All the things we were taught about space and other planets being uninhabitable, are just theories now. We are proving science wrong, we are creating a bigger, better, longer future for everyone on Earth.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    1/28/2016 - 09:20 p.m.

    I think this is cool because this is the first zinnia to bloom in space. This is just the beginning of botany in space. I wonder how astronauts managed to grow the plant despite the mold that was growing. They did a good job in doing so. It must have been really hard, having to always remove the mold.
    Why are scientists experimenting with plant life in space?
    Answer: Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space because it would be necessary during Mars expeditions.

  • zeusr-3-bar
    1/28/2016 - 09:21 p.m.

    It states in this article that these astronauts are going to need this knowledge on there future expedition to Mars.

    My opinion on this is that there can be crops grown in space or even better on other planets.

  • jilliand-3-bar
    1/28/2016 - 10:16 p.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space to see if their could be life in space. In the text it says, "'Yes, there are other life forms in space!' Kelly said in a tweet in mid-January." Since we know that life can grow in space for sure, we now know that there could be life that we have not discovered yet. I thought this article was interesting because the movie "Martian" just came out and was on this topic.

  • matthewp-6-bar
    1/28/2016 - 11:43 p.m.

    Scientist are experimenting with plant life in space because it would give astronauts better and more nurturing food for their bodies. Also for the trip to Mars they will want a garden. This is shown in the article by,"This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions." My opinion about this article is that it seems like a very hard and high maintenance thing to do.

  • stonep-6-bar
    1/29/2016 - 12:24 a.m.

    This is very cool that plant life can grow in space. The reasoning of scientists wanting to grow plant life in space so we can grow food in space to survive on long space voyages. The Block Buster movie "The Martian" shows what the want to accomplish in the future.

  • luket-4-bar
    1/29/2016 - 01:39 a.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with life on space because growing crops is necessary to colonize any other planet, no matter how far out that may be. We can't even attempt to colonize a planet until we know for a fact that we can grow food there.
    I thought this article was interesting because i didn't realize that NASA was already experimenting with growing crops in space.

  • jacks-6-bar
    1/29/2016 - 01:40 a.m.

    Scientists are experimenting with plant life in space because it will prove useful in future Mars expeditions and to test if plant life will grow as affectively in space as it does on Earth. The article states: "This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions…"
    Scientists want to test plant life in space for Mars journeys, being useful in many ways (one example would be a food source). Plants are now meant to be used on crucial space missions, so obviously, their reliability would need to be tested there. Getting to Mars takes time, energy, and especially money. Scientists will use any shortcuts or resources they can to ease the mission. Plants are one of these resources, the article claims. They could be used for food, treating wounds, etc., which are all necessary to success, as all are willing to take every precaution available. Endangering missions to Mars are bad, but helping them is highly beneficial, and in this case, the missions will be helped with all the incredible uses for plants. Not only are the plants essential for Mars expeditions, but also scientists test them purely for the sake of finding how they behave in space relative to home. They'd want to see how it fairs there compared to the Earth. Through experimenting with plant life in space, scientists could find out whether they can be used for an even wider range of possibilities, since, if plants grow normally in space as they do on Earth, uses for them in space will open.

    This article was intriguing, as I learned plant life could indeed exist in the hostile environment of space. It was especially interesting to here that plants were even going to play a part in missions to Mars, the next frontier! I never had recognized plants' truly necessary possibilities.

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