Zinnia flowers on ISS, Russian supply ship delivers to ISS and Chinese rover finds new kind of rock on the Moon

zinia_flowers_iss_122315_945Zinnia flowers starting to grow on the International Space Station

Zinnia flowers are starting to grow in the International Space Station’s Veggie facility as part of the VEG-01 investigation. Veggie provides lighting and nutrient supply for plants in the form of a low-cost growth chamber and planting “pillows” to provide nutrients for the root system.

These plants appear larger than their ground-based counterparts and scientists expect buds to form on the larger plants soon.

The Veggie facility supports a variety of plant species that can be cultivated for educational outreach, fresh food and even recreation for crew members on long-duration missions. Previously, the facility has grown lettuce — which was consumed by the crew earlier this year — and now investigators are attempting to grow Zinnia flowers. Understanding how flowering plants grow in microgravity can be applied to growing other edible flowering plants, such as tomatoes.

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Russian supply ship delivers to the Space Station

Two days after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the unpiloted Russian ISS Progress 62 cargo ship docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment at the International Space Station Dec. 23.

Loaded with 2.8 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 46 crew, the Progress reached the complex for an automated linkup following a two-day rendezvous deliberately planned to test upgraded software and telemetry systems. The newest Progress will remain attached to Pirs until early July.

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Chinese rover finds new kind of rock on the Moon

A Chinese lunar rover has discovered a new kind of rock on the surface of the moon, suggesting our cosmic companion has a more diverse makeup than previously thought, scientists say.

Traversing a dark basin on the lunar surface, the Yutu rover released from the Chang’e 3 robotic lander has detected evidence of a kind of basaltic rock not seen on the moon before, they say.

“We recognize a new type of lunar basalt with a distinctive mineral assemblage compared with the samples from Apollo and Luna, and the lunar meteorites,” researchers report in their study appearing in Nature Communications.

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