Tozer Seeds rocket to space in horticultural mission with Tim Peake
British astronaut Tim Peake, currently on-board the International Space Station (ISS), has teamed up with plant breeding specialists Tozer Seeds to teach schoolchildren about space biology.
Last September Tozer Seeds donated 2kg (4.4lbs) of salad rocket seed to help the UK Space Agency and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) carry out an experiment involving 10,000 schools across Britain. The seeds will orbit the Earth until March and return with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.
Peake has recorded a message to schoolchildren explaining the experiment, dubbed Rocket Science.
"Conditions here on the ISS are quite different from planet Earth due to us being weightless here in orbit. This experiment will aim to see if microgravity can affect the growth mechanisms in seeds," he says.
"Now that these seeds have been on the ISS, I’ll be packing them up at the end of their mission and sending them back down to Earth.
"When they arrive, they’ll be sent to thousands of schools to grow alongside the seeds that haven’t been up here in space as part of our special science experiment."
From April schoolkids will grow and compare the seeds flown to space with seeds that have remained on Earth as part of the nationwide experiment.
Schools will receive an educational pack containing seeds from space and others that have remained on Earth, alongside literature about the experiment and a poster to record results.
Pupils will then embark on a 35-day ‘voyage of discovery’ to find out what plants grown in space can teach us and whether human life can be sustained in the future.
Results will be collected and analyzed by biostatisticians and published later this year.
"We have been working closely with the RHS on this project for over a year and are all very proud to have our seed pictured on the space station with Tim Peake," Tozer Seeds sales director David Rogers says in a release.
“We have a further 2kg of the same seed securely stored in our warehouse and once the seed is down we will organise it’s re-packing and help get it out to schools.
"The whole company is excited by this."
The RHS is accepting applications for the project, dubbed Rocket Science, until March when the seeds return to Earth.
"Working with the UK Space Agency provides a unique opportunity for schools to engage young people in horticulture and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.
"Educators can use this experiment and our suites of age-specific resources to teach the curriculum in a new, innovative way using real world issues of food security and the possible future settlement of humans on another planet.
"I encourage schools across the country to answer Tim Peake’s call and sign up to this very exciting project."
Watch Tim Peake's video here.