Zinnia in Space: @NASA Veggie Lab bio experiments & future food

Zinnia in Space. Photo credit: Scott Kelly, NASA

Zinnia in Space.
Photo credit: Scott Kelly, NASA

This should become an epic space shot. Photograph that is. Not only for the splendid colour contrast of these orange Zinnia petals and vibrant green leaves set against a distant Earth and Space background. But also for the back story.

While these are not the first plants to be grown and flower in space (lettuce seeds have been grown so they must have flowered, perhaps not so vividly as this bright, orange example), the Zinnia plants were brought back to life by Astronaut Scott Kelly and other crew members on the International Space Station (ISS) after suffering from some mould problems caused by too much moisture in the controlled atmosphere system. That kind of “bio-recovery” process provides valuable experience that can be put towards future, longer term space missions. It forms part of NASA’s “Veggie Lab” experiments on the ISS, a step towards more large scale food production in space.

Maybe the labours of Astronaut Mark Watney on Mars to create a potato farm (please read the excellent book by Andy Weir and Ridley Scott’s film of The Martian starring Matt Damon) won’t be science fiction in a few years.

About NixonsCan

World-traveled ecologist interested in sustainability, photography, sports, and music.
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