During the 1980s, Nasa sent tomato seeds into orbit on board the Challenger shuttle. Nothing was actually grown during the mission; this early experiment assessed the effects of deep space on seeds. It transpires that space is actually a good place in which to store seeds, as it’s dry and cold enough to keep them dormant.
In 2007, space shuttle Endeavour blasted off carrying millions of basil seeds bound for the International Space Station, orbiting approximately 400 kilometres above Earth. During that mission, the astronauts experimented with growing the seeds in special growth chambers on board the ISS, before returning them to Earth 20 days later for scientific testing.
The results of this brief investigation were encouraging: according to Nasa, the basil seeds successfully germinated within the microgravity environment of the ISS, and showed growth, the Endeavour mission to the ISS proved that it is indeed possible to grow plants in space.
Fast-forward to 2013 and Nasa’s launch of the Vegetable Production System, known as “Veggie” for short, a low-power plant-growth system designed to provide supplemental nourishment for astronauts on board the ISS.
2015, Zinia flowers were grown onboard, and ‘Veggie’ cosmic lettuce crops were eaten by the astronauts onboard the ISS.
2016, here at Priestlands, we are investigating “Geotropism”. Are our sets of young plants showing both negative and positive geotropism equally, or has the trip to space affected some of the plants?
Observations and data collection continues until May half term.
When our results and observations have been downloaded to SpaceUK, and the RHS, we will receive a message from Tim Peake onboard the ISS, as to which seeds went to space!!