Rocket Science

Does zero gravity affect the germination and growth of Rocket plants

On 2 September 2015, two kilograms of rocket seed (Eruca sativa) travelled from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on the Soyuz 44S rocket to the International Space Station (ISS). The seeds have been stored in microgravity by Tim Peake (the first British ESA astronaut) before their return to Earth.

Imagine a mission to put a space station on the moon or eventually even Mars.  One of the things scientists will need to think about is how we can grow our own food.  That means we need to be sure that seeds that have been stored in zero gravity on the journey will actually germinate and grow once they are back in positive gravity.  That is where the six week Rocket Science experiment comes in.  We have sown 100 seeds that have been in space and 100 seeds that have stayed on earth and we don’t know which seeds are which.  Scientists call this a single blind investigation.  It is a type of experiment in which information about the test is kept from the participants, to reduce bias, until after a trial outcome is known.  Will one set of seeds grow better than the other?  What could this mean for space exploration?

Some of our pupils have already sown the seeds and become ‘Space Biologists’  but we will be looking for other volunteers to help collect the data as the days and weeks go past.   

At the end of the experiment the data from all the participating schools will be collected together and analysed to produce some very accurate and reliable results.  Then we hope our question will be answered!

We are really excited about having this opportunity to participate, alongside thousands of other schools in the UK, in some ‘real science’.

Watch this space over the coming weeks to see how we are getting on. 


Rocket Science Update 22/04/2016

First seeds germinate today!!!!!!