NASA astronomer Scott Kelly harvested zinnias on Valentine's Day in the Veggie plant growth system right on the ISS and presented them to the world.
"Yes, there are other life forms in space!" — Kelly wrote on his Twitter account.
Although, at first, the flowers had a hard time growing, facing a few additional unforeseen stressors, including the growth of fungi. But thanks to the hard work of Kelly and his team, as well as their colleagues on Earth, the flowers pulled through.
This experiment provides a great opportunity for scientists to study how plants, including vegetables, could be grown in space. As humans are planning longer space missions, astronomers would need to grow their own food.
"We need to learn a tremendous amount to help develop more robust sustainable food production systems as NASA moves toward long-duration exploration and the journey to Mars," said Gioia Massa, a member of NASA's Veggie team.
The growth of zinnias was a test-run before NASA plans to grow tomatoes on the ISS in 2017. NASA is hoping that by learning how to grow vegetables in space, astronomers will be able to supplement their diets with fresh vegetables.