A flower in space. The dream of every extraterrestrial flower fan, the nightmare of every extraterrestrial flower competitor. Indeed, the future gift of every apologetic extraterrestrial significant other. It’s true. Hmm, you’re thinking. You’re telling me that a flower — something I know for sure is an “Earth thing” — was grown in space? I’ll believe it when I see it.
Huh, I barely even told you that yet, but yes. You’re two steps ahead of me, it seems, but your disbelief is, as usual, two steps behind. Check out these tweets from NASA astronaut and International Space Station commander Scott Kelly and see for yourself:
The #SpaceFlower, an orange zinnia, is the second plant grown as part of NASA’s “Veggie” growth facility project, which studies how plants grow in microgravity. (The Veggie project aims to give astronauts a food resource for long-duration exploration missions, and potentially even combats feelings of isolation, which is nice.) The first plant grown on the ISS was lettuce. Mmm, space lettuce. Veggie project manager Trent Smith wrote about the plants’ differences in a statement:
“The zinnia plant is very different from lettuce. It is more sensitive to environmental parameters and light characteristics. It has a longer growth duration between 60 and 80 days. Thus, it is a more difficult plant to grow, and allowing it to flower, along with the longer growth duration, makes it a good precursor to a tomato plant.”
Lettuce in space. Flowers in space. A tomato plant in space. Damn. They sure are doing some crazy things up there.