We have just submitted our results for the very exciting Rocket Science Experiment with the RHS!
It all started back is April, when we were sent two packets of seeds: one of them had been in space! We got the seeds from astronaut Tim Peake, who looked after them on the space station, then sent them back down to Earth. We were very confused when we were told they were rocket seeds: space rockets don’t grow from seeds! But then we discovered that rocket is also a type of plant, a salad leaf which humans can eat.
We planted both packets of seeds and measured them to see how well they would grow. Either the blue packet trays or the red packet trays might have grown differently, because they experienced micro-gravity while being in space. All of year 2, and groups from year 3, 4 and 5 and science club helped do the measurements. We also set up a time lapse camera, and have made a film of the seeds growing over the whole 5 weeks, you can see it here: https://youtu.be/NnWUPLC4JG8
Now that we have finished and taken all our results, we have given them to the UK space agency, where the results will be looked at and used by real scientists.They will use our results to see if seeds can be grown after being in space, so we can send people to Mars one day. It takes over a year to get to Mars, so the astronauts will need to be able to grow fresh food for the journey, and once they arrive on Mars. Would you like to know what we discovered?
The Red and Blue seeds were very similar in how they grew, but there were some differences! The red trays have grown slightly better, with 90% of the plants alive at the end of the experiment, while only 89% of the blue plants were still alive. The red plants also had more leaves: with an average of 4.6 leaves on the red plants, but only 4.3 on the blue ones.
We think the BLUE ones have been in space, because they have not grown as well. Being in space is not what plants are used to: getting knocked around in the rocket, floating in microgravity, maybe a different amount of oxygen and the extra radiation could all have damaged the seeds to make them not grow quite as well. We will find out once all the results are in whether we are right! Both sets of seeds did grow really well, so we can recommend that astronauts take rocket seeds with them to Mars as they will grow fine after being in space.
The one problem is that we can’t eat the rocket that has grown, because it could have mutated while being in space: we need more research to find out if they are safe!