Bright orange zinnia blossomed aboard the International Space Station, becoming the first flower to bloom in space.
"First, this is the first flower that was grown aboard the ISS," writes US astronaut Scott Kelly on Twitter, attaching a photo.
Zinnia grows easily on Earth and flourishes in abundance in the summer. But on the ISS, where they were taken for experiments, they had problems adapting to weightlessness.
"In addition, in December, the mold grew on some of the leaves of the flower due to high humidity," said NASA. But Kelly cured them.
Zinnia flowers are edible — part of a long-term NASA project known as “Veggie.” "It is designed for food production with an eye on long manned missions to Mars. Such autonomy is the key to the survival of astronauts in space," said NASA.
The crew on the ISS has already grown and ate lettuce last year and hopes to grow tomatoes next year. Growing vegetables on the space station began in mid-2014.
"The system requires much less water and fertilizer, and the plants grow three times faster than on Earth," say NASA.
Joey Massa, a scientist working on the Veggie project, said that the plants grown are still not perfect, but they helped researchers on Earth better understand how they grow in microgravity.