NASA is doing a lot of research to see how plants from Earth will grow in the zero gravity of space. Being able to grow food is one of the only ways that future space missions will be able to keep astronauts fed on long duration missions. Typically, the astronauts grow edible vegetable plants, but during a recent mission, the astronauts grew a flower.
The flower grown in space is a Zinnia, which is a genus of plants in the sunflower tribe within the daisy family. On Earth these plants are native to grassy areas in the southwest US and other areas. While this is the first flower grown in space it is far from the first plant grown in space.
NASA has grown lettuce aboard the space station and the astronauts have been able to eat the plants they have grown at harvest. NASA also admits that so far the plants that have been grown on the ISS haven’t grown perfectly. One flower of the sort pictured here had mold on the leaves.
While that may seem like a failure, the moldy plant gives scientists an opportunity to further understand how plants grow in microgravity. All plants grown aboard the ISS start out as seeds placed in pillow packs that contain soil and other grown materials inside. The lettuce grown previously is called “Outredgrous” red romaine lettuce.