BEACON TRANSCRIPT – NASA will grow flowers in space next year according to a recent announcement concerning the International Space Center activity. Recently NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren activated a plant growth system within the International Space Center and managed to grow a crop of red lettuce that has already been harvested by the astronauts at the center.
They are now moving on to flowers and plan on planting some flower seeds in the same system in early 2016. It seems that bags of Zinnia seeds have already been sent to the space station and that astronauts plan on helping them grow as soon as possible.
Of course, growing plants in outer space is about more than astronauts eating lettuce and looking at pretty flowers. The process of growing the Zinnia flowers in orbit will provide vital information about plants that can be successfully grown in place.
According to NASA this would be the first attempt ever made to grow flowering plants in an orbiting lab. Gioia Massa, a scientist working for the NASA Kennedy Space Centre explained that this is mostly because of the more challenging nature of flowering crops, which are harder to grow than vegetative crops like lettuce.
The scientist went on to explain that there are several factors that influence the growth of flowering crops and that are more crucial in the development of these crops than they are in the growth of vegetative crops. Lighting and other environmental parameters can critically change the way a flowering crop evolves.
The Zinnias will be grown for 60 days, a period of time twice as long as the one which was allotted to the growth of the lettuce that marked the orbiting lab’s earlier success. As exposure to light in one of the crucial factors influencing the flower’s development, LED lights will be used to simulate sunlight and stimulate the plants to flower. The lights will be kept on for 10 hours then turned off for the next 14 hours.
Observing how the flowers react to the environment and how they grow will help scientists better understand how plants flower in the Veggie growth system. The new information will aid in developments that will enable astronauts to grow and eat fruiting plants like tomatoes in space.
The scientists also wish to determine other important aspect of plant growth in space by observing the flowers. They hope to gather relevant data concerning long-duration sees stow and germination and to figure out if pollen could be problematic.
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