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Remember when I made the post Flowers could be blooming on the International Space Station after the New Year? It’s now done as you can see from the photos posted by astronaut Scott Kelly

“Growing the Zinnia plants will help advance our knowledge of how plants flower in the [plant growth system named] Veggie, and will enable fruiting plants like tomatoes to be grown and eaten in space using Veggie as the in-orbit garden,” said Trent Smith, Veggie program manager at Kennedy.

vine

What amazes me the most about videos and pictures from the ISS is how thin and fragile our atmosphere seems, and this is what protects all life on Earth.

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Space sleep study to understand ageing

Tomorrow the first official British astronaut Tim Peake will blast into space for 6 months.

He’ll be doing lots of experiments and tests that aren’t possible on Earth because of the unique conditions on the ISS 400km above Earth. He’ll even be running the London Marathon from space.

But living in microgravity for so long will take a toll on his body; astronauts experience bone and muscle loss, diminished immune systems and increased inflammation, complaints that also are common in the elderly.

To help find out why this happens an experiment at the University of Surrey with the European Space Agency is mimicking the effects of microgravity. Young healthy men will spend two weeks living in the lab ‘normally’ before spending 60 days constantly in beds that are slightly tilted to simulate the microgravity on board the ISS.

By investigating how these conditions disrupt sleep and body clocks, the study will help figure out the genetic processes that contribute to the health problems experienced by both the elderly and astronauts in space.

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Photos: NASA and Victor Zelentsov