In collaboration with ESA, the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency launched an ‘out-of-this-world’ educational project today at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Called Rocket Science, this project will see 2 kg of seeds of a variety of rocket salad sent to the International Space Station as part of ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s six-month Principia mission.
After several months in space, orbiting the planet at 17 000 mph (26 000 km/h), the seeds will be returned to Earth and sent to thousands of UK schools, together with a batch of seeds that stayed on Earth. Pupils will grow and compare the seeds to see whether space travel has an impact on the growth of the seeds. The results of the nationwide science experiment will be analysed to help find out if we can sustain human life in space by producing our own food.
British ESA astronaut Tim Peake said: “It’s a huge privilege to be the first British ESA astronaut flying to the International Space Station. During my six-month tour, I’ll be conducting a number of experiments on the International Space Station. I hope that the Rocket Science experiment will inspire the next generation to think scientifically, and to consider fulfilling careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
To introduce the project, an inspiring exhibition is on show in the Discovery Zone at this year’s Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, complete with a real-life Mars Rover and ESA scientists on hand to talk about their work in this field. Set across four zones, interactive displays will show past, present and future plants in space, explaining the important role scientists play in helping plants grow in inhospitable conditions. The exhibit will show how space exploration helps solve problems on Earth and even the plants astronauts need to survive long-duration missions.
During a visit to the exhibition, the UK Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson said: “Britain’s space industry is going from strength to strength, and for this to continue it is right we inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Rocket Science is doing just that by giving thousands of schoolchildren the opportunity to play a part in Tim’s mission to the International Space Station, while learning new skills in a fun and unique way.”
Further details of the project will be made available following its launch at Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show. Schools can apply for seeds from September 2015 via the Royal Horticultural Society Campaign for School Gardening website.
Schools who want to apply for packets of seeds and take part in the experiment can register their interest from Monday, 18 May, on the Campaign for School Gardening Website www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening.
The Chelsea Flower Show runs until Saturday, 23 May.