To increase our knowledge of growing plants in space, 8,500 UK schools were given the opportunity over April and May to be involved with a UK-wide live science experiment – growing Rocket seeds (half from Earth and half that have been into space).
“Two kilograms of rocket (Eruca sativa) seeds were launched on Soyuz 44S on 2nd September 2015 and arrived on the ISS two days later. British ESA astronaut Tim Peake took charge of the seeds and after being held for about six months in microgravity, the seeds were returned to Earth”.
Myself and a handful of others were given the chance to be involved, so over the last month have been in competition growing the seeds at work. The results will help determine any differences between those seeds that were kept in microgravity and those that stayed on Earth. We were not told which set was which, but as you can see there is not much difference in size, colour or leaf-count between ‘red’ and ‘blue’ and the only obvious difference we noticed was the fact that the blue set took a couple of days longer to germinate and grow seed-leaves. For this reason, our guess is that the blue set were those kept in microgravity.
Once all the data has been collected the results will be analysed by professional statisticians. Leading scientists from the RHS and European Space Agency will interpret the results and draw possible conclusions. An online report will also be made available on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website from September 2016.