27 September 2023

Seeds in space? Wattle they think of next?

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Seeds of Australia’s national floral symbol, the Golden Wattle, have returned to Earth after a seven-month journey into space.

Announced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), the seeds’ trip to the International Space Station was part of the ground-breaking What’ll Happen to the Wattle??! (WHTW) Program, a collaboration it said was between the Australian Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the One Giant Leap Foundation.

“The Golden Wattle seeds called the International Space Station ‘home’ until their return to Earth in July,” PM&C said.

“Since then, the seeds have been distributed to more than 300 locations around Australia to grow, with data about the plants uploaded to the What’ll Happen to the Wattle app,” it said.

PM&C said the locations included schools and community groups, where participants would engage in a range of experiments with the seeds, “and will interact with one another and the three Agencies in a series of webinars, teleconferences and other gatherings”.

According to the WHTW Program website, each of the 300 locations would grow the Golden Wattle seeds that had been to space and compare them to the ones that stayed on Earth but were from the same seed lot.

It said the objectives of the Program were to investigate the effect of microgravity on plant growth and germination; encourage scientific research between students, schools, universities and space Agencies; promote environmental and microgravity science; develop interest and skills in scientific space experiments and methodology; and inspire further research for students and academics both nationally and internationally.

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