NASA has delighted space enthusiasts by sharing a captivating image of a zinnia flower in full bloom aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The zinnia flower was grown as part of the Veggie facility, showcasing the successful cultivation of flowering crops in microgravity. This achievement marks a significant milestone in NASA’s efforts to understand plant growth in space and prepare for future space missions.
A Challenging Experiment of Growing Zinnia Flower in Space
The Veggie plant experiment, initiated on 16th November 2015, aimed to explore the growth of flowering crops in microgravity. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren activated the Veggie system on the ISS, which included “rooting pillows” containing zinnia seeds. The choice of zinnia seeds was deliberate, as these plants pose unique challenges for growth. The experiment allowed scientists to refine autonomous gardening techniques, which will be vital for sustaining crews on extended space missions.
Nurturing Space Horticulture
Initially, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, the commander of Expedition 46, observed that the zinnia plants were not faring well. Recognizing the need for a different approach, Kelly suggested treating space crops like one would tend to plants in a backyard garden. Heeding this advice, the Veggie team on Earth devised a guide for caring for zinnia plants in microgravity. Following the guidelines, Kelly diligently nurtured the zinnia flowers, and by January 2016, they displayed a remarkable rebound, shedding their initial melancholy appearance.
The recently shared image, captured by Scott Kelly in 2015, showcases the stunning beauty of the zinnia flower against the backdrop of Earth from space. The vibrant light-orange petals of the zinnia blossom gracefully, while the intertwined leaves extend towards the top-left corner of the photograph. The Earth appears as a blurred sphere in the background, emphasizing the awe-inspiring perspective from the ISS. The lower half of the image is dominated by the vast expanse of space, a reminder of the challenges astronauts face during their space missions.
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