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
Tim Peake, before his mission to the International Space Station, flipping a coin to decide which colour seed packet would contain the seeds that would travel to space
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.”