British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake sent a special message from the International Space Station wishing 600,000 young people good luck as they started their Rocket Science experiments.
More than 8,300 schools and educational groups applied to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening Rocket Science project and received their rocket seeds on 18 April.
They then began the 35-day experiment, growing 100 seeds that had spent six months orbiting the earth, and comparing them to 100 rocket seeds that had not. The seed packets are colour-coded, however the pupils will not know which of the two packets is which until after the results of the experiment have been published.
Their investigations will focus on the impact of micro-gravity and space travel on seed germination and growth. Biostatisticians will analyse the schools’ results helping to form a clearer picture of the potential for astronauts to grow their own food to sustain them on long-term missions.
Speaking about the initiative, which is one of the biggest mass science experiments conducted in UK schools, RHS Skills Development Manager Claire Custance said, “Tim knows that among those taking part in the experiment there will be dozens who could help get an astronaut to Mars, hundreds who could build careers in the sciences and horticulture, and tens of thousands who will have a new appreciation of the natural world and the role plants play in all our lives.”
Find out more...
Watch Tim Peake's first message from space
Discover more about Rocket Science
Find out more about Tim's Principia mission
See kids' space themed events at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show