A Space Weather Garden

January 29, 2016
Noctilucent clouds

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Dreaming of a garden? Here is a chance to have totally unique flowers and plants. You can now buy seeds that have been exposed to space weather.

Imagine a garden with flowers that came from the edge of space and experienced space weather. Source: NASA

Welcome to the world of Earth to Sky Calculus, a project by a group of high school science enthusiasts from Bishop, CA. For more than 3 years the students have been launching balloons into the stratosphere, trying to gain a deeper knowledge of the upper atmosphere. Instruments and objects have soared to the edge of space, photographing and measuring the intersection of Earth’s atmosphere and space weather. They have watched cosmic radiation soar as the sun became quieter and its solar wind protection of the Earth grew weaker

One of the more intriguing projects sent plant seeds into space. During their rise into the stratosphere, the 80+ seed packets experienced temperatures as low as -81° F, air pressures like those on the planet Mars, and cosmic ray dose rates 40 times Earth-normal. While these “space seeds” were flying, identical control samples remained behind on Earth. The students will plant the two together and see how they differ. (Will “space jalapenos” be hotter?)

Flowers and vegetable seeds on the edge – will they taste any different? Will the sunflowers have a new glow? Source:  Earth to Sky Calculus

As a fund raiser to continue student research, they are selling seed and for a donation of $49.95 to Earth to Sky Calculus, supporters can chose any two seed types from the following: beefsteak tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cosmos flowers, green beans, helichrysum flowers, jalapeno peppers, petunias, pumpkins, radishes, sunflowers, sweet corn, and turnips. The package includes the space seeds and the control packets as well. The Facebook page notes the seeds would make a great science fair project and, possibly, a unique meal! (Anyone interested should Contact Dr. Tony Phillips)

Meet Mork – the flying cupcake! Source:  Earth to Sky Calculus

Having a project run by teenagers guaranteed some quirky ideas. They even flew cupcakes and Camilla, an instrument-covered rubber chicken to space! However, if you have dreamed of a garden with seeds that have been heavenly, or at least high, you can now plant space seeds.

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.