Astronaut reveals identity of space seeds recently grown by pupils

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Tim Peake reveals whether the red or blue seed packet contained the space seeds grown for project by Royal Horticultural Society Campaign for School Gardening and UK Space Agency

A special message from British ESA astronaut Tim Peake will today be sent to over 600,000 young people who took part in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening and UK Space Agency experiment, Rocket Science.

The message will provide the answer to the highly anticipated question – were the seeds that were sent to space in the blue packet or the red packet?

The answer can now be revealed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SV6bXBt4Ug0.

Before Tim embarked on his Principia mission to the International Space Station, he flipped a coin to decide which colour packet would contain the space seeds, and the answer has been a closely guarded secret ever since.

The seeds in question are 2kg of rocket seeds (Eruca sativa) which were sent to the International Space Station (ISS), ahead of Tim, on 03 September 2015. They remained on-board for six months until they returned to Earth with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on 03 March 2016. The seeds were then packaged into the coloured packet, determined by Tim’s coin flip, and 2kg of rocket seed that had remained on Earth was packaged into the other.

Throughout April and May this year, over 8,500 schools and educational groups grew the seeds alongside each other to investigate the impact of microgravity, radiation and space travel on seed germination and growth.

Over 5,400 schools have now successfully added their experiment data to a national online database, to be analysed by biostatisticians. The results, which will be published later in the autumn, will help to form a clearer picture of the potential for astronauts to grow their own food to sustain them on long-term missions.

Tim, who returned to Earth on Saturday 18 June, said of the experiment: “Throughout my time on the ISS I have kept an eye on the Rocket Science project via social media. It’s been amazing to see so many young people engaging in a science experiment of this scale and I’m sure we have successfully created a few more future scientists, horticulturists and hopefully astronauts to continue work like this in years to come.”

RHS Skills Development Manager Claire Custance said: “Results from Rocket Science will be published later this year in a full report which will also contain the positive impacts the project has had on the young people that participated, as well as comments from the Royal Horticultural Society, UK Space Agency and European Space Agency.

“Whatever the result may be, for us, the most important outcome of this experiment is that is has enabled hundreds of thousands of young people to engage with real plant science that has not been done in UK schools before. We hope this project has helped them to see the fundamental importance of plants in our daily lives, as well as sparking their interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects as a whole. We will be thrilled to know that Rocket Science has encouraged young people to continue to explore, question, discover and look for answers.”

Libby Jackson, the UK Space Agency’s Astronaut Flight Education Programme Manager said: “We are delighted with the tremendous levels of participation in the Rocket Science project, and await the results with great interest. Through the experiment, children have learnt about the importance of good scientific experimental protocol and about the challenges of feeding astronauts whilst they explore other planets. We hope that many of the 600,000 children who have taken part in Rocket Science will go on to be the scientists and engineers of our future and become a part of the UK’s booming space sector.”

For more information please contact Garfield Myrie in the RHS press office on 020 7821 3060 or garfieldmyrie@rhs.org.uk .
 

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Notes to editors

About Rocket Science
Children and young people of all ages (from early years right up to university level) and all abilities have taken part in the initiative. Although registration for the experiment has now ended, you can out more about the experiment and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening on our website: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk.

Follow the mission with the RHS and get involved on Twitter using @RHSSchools #RocketScience

About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening actively involves more than 28,000 schools and youth organisations across the UK in horticulture. It aims to inspire young people about plants, gardening and their environment and consider further education and careers in horticulture and science. Through gardening they learn about healthy food and wildlife as well as important life skills such as teamwork, social skills and co-operation.

Resources including information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS Education team and RHS Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors. Schools and youth organisations can sign up to RHS Campaign for School Gardening online: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk.

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join.

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

About the UK Space Agency
The UK Space Agency is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provides a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions.

At the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space, we are responsible for ensuring that the UK retains and grows a strategic capability in space-based systems, technologies, science and applications. We lead the UK’s civil space programme in order to win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefit to all citizens.

We work to:
• co-ordinate UK civil space activity
• encourage academic research
• support the UK space industry
• raise the profile of UK space activities at home and abroad
• increase understanding of space science and its practical benefits
• inspire our next generation of UK scientists and engineers
• licence the launch and operation of UK spacecraft
• promote co-operation and participation in the European Space programme

About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 20 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int

 

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262