Nasa achieved success in culturing the first flower in the microgravity of space. Astronauts aboard the ISS were able to grow a Zinnia plant, which bloomed after much effort. American astronaut Scott Kelly played a key role in the blooming of the first flower, grown completely in space. Kelly posted a picture of the 13 petaled flower of the Zinnia plant on twitter. This is a crucial step in the growth of plants in space, as the Zinnia plant is a precursor of the tomato plant. The Zinnia plant has a longer growth duration of 60 to 80 days, making it much harder to grow. Astronauts aboard the ISS started growing the Zinnias late last year, but just after two weeks, the plants suffered from different space related issues.
The team noticed seepage of the water from some of the seed containers. Due to this, the plants started suffering from guttation, which happens when the plant suffers from high humidity. Along with that, the Zinnia leaf started curling. This was due to epinasty, which happens when the roots gets flooded. By last week of December, everything was not going well for the Zinnia plants and the leaves started catching mould. In order to save the plants, astronaut Kelly took charge of the plants. He took care of the plants and watered them when required instead of when scheduled. He told the ground team, “You know, I think if we’re going to Mars, and we were growing stuff, we would be responsible for deciding when the stuff needed water. Kind of like in my backyard, I look at it and say ‘Oh, maybe I should water the grass today.’ I think this is how this should be handled.”
Shortly after, through Scott Kelly’s efforts, two of the remaining plants became stable, and by January 12th, the first buds started to open. Earlier in the weekend the flower bloomed on one of the Zinnia plants which was quite a sight. This is a huge success in growing plants in space.
The plants which died due to various reasons during the experiment have been stowed away in deep freeze and will be brought back to ground. Here, a team will study and research the findings to understand how to agrigate in space and on Mars which is the goal of a distinct future...but THE goal afterall.