For the first time, a zinnia flower has blossomed in space. The zinnia flower crop was planted late last year and veggie program manager at Kennedy Space Center, Gioia Massa, said growing the plants in orbit will provide further information about potentially flowering other plants in space.
“Growing the zinnia plants will help advance our knowledge of how plants flower in the Veggie growth system, and will enable fruiting plants like tomatoes to be grown and eaten in space using Veggie as the in-orbit garden,” Smith said.
However, the zinnias did not have the smoothest start.
Due to excess internal pressure, water began seeping out of some of the leaves, the plants became stressed, the roots flooded, mould was growing and the flowers livelihood was not looking good. But NASA astronaut, Scott Kelly, came to the rescue -- he cut off the mould and increased fan speed. The leaves dried out. He made adjustments and experimented with his own means to keep the plants alive, channelling his "inner Mark Watney" and succeeded. Two of the flowers died and two flourished -- with at least one blooming.
On his Twitter account, Kelly claimed the zinnia was the first flower grown in space, however in 2012, NASA astronaut Don Pettit grew a sunflower during a five-month assignment on the International Space Station. It may not be as impressive as the zinnia, but it still blossomed.
Check out Kelly's live Twitter updates of the zinnia's miracle journey:
Our plants aren't looking too good. Would be a problem on Mars. I'm going to have to channel my inner Mark Watney. pic.twitter.com/m30bwCKA3w— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) December 27, 2015