Time to get your green thumbs out. Schoolchildren from the U.K. will be receiving space seeds in the coming weeks from astronaut Tim Peake to participate in a study on plant growth outside our Earth called Rocket Science.
These seeds have spent six months in microgravity in the International Space Station (ISS). They were launched with astronaut Peake, the first British European Space Agency astronaut, last year.
Peake, who seems to be enjoying his stay in the ISS, launched the mass experiment to study the growth of seeds that have been in space and compare them with their Earth, non-space traveler counterparts.
Called "Rocket Science," the project aims to involve more than 600,000 schoolchildren in the U.K. to grow salad rocket seeds, more popularly known as arugula, which is quite a fitting choice for the out-of-this-world experiment.
Two kilograms of these space seeds launched with Peake on the Soyuz 44S in September. After six months, they returned to Earth in March along with the former commander of the space station and record-holder of longest stay in orbit, Scott Kelly.
These Rocket Science seeds, scientifically known as Eruca sativa, have been sorted and packed into red and blue packets. Each packet contains seeds exposed to microgravity to see if this can affect the plant's growing mechanism, as per a BBC report.
Exposure to radiation is also another area of concern. This project can help scientists develop varieties of plants that can be grown on long space missions.
Schoolchildren across the U.K. are eager to be the next space biologists. For instance, Crawley Green Infant School will receive 100 space seeds on Monday, April 18, as per Luton Today. In five weeks, the schoolchildren will measure the plants and also take note of their leaf count.
Hopefully, this project can inspire more children to partake in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field and even be the next Tim Peake or Scott Kelly.
This Rocket Science experiment is done by the Royal Horticultural Society's campaign for school gardening, in partnership with the U.K. Space Agency.
While this is the first time such massive project is done, it's not the first time that astronauts are getting their green thumbs up. Commander Kelly, who just recently returned to Earth after his year-long mission, grew zinnias in the ISS -- considered as the first flowers in outer space -- and ate freshly grown red romaine lettuce in the station's veggie facility along with two other astronauts.
Space farmers continue to do their research on how fresh plants can be grown and consumed in space, which is important for longer space flights, such as in future missions to Mars.
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