Tomato seeds from space travel to Taloyoak, Nunavut

Some students at Netsilik School are learning how tomato seeds from the International Space Station are different than ones kept on Earth, as part of a project meant to help Canadian astronauts better understand long-term space travel.

Students at Netsilik School learn how space travel affects seeds' germination rate

Student Lisa Aqqaq and teacher Sarah Robinson in the greenhouse at the Netsilik School in Taloyoak, Nunavut. They're part of the Tomatosphere Project that partners schools from across the country with the Canadian Space Agency to teach young students about science, space exploration, food and nutrition. (Courtesy Gina Pizzo)

There are tomato seeds growing at the greenhouse at Netsilik School in Taloyoak, Nunavut, that traveled more than 450-million kilometres to get there. 

They were on the International Space Station as part of the Tomatosphere Project, a science experiment that teaches students about space exploration, food and nutrition. 

The students get to compare the space-travelled seeds to ones that stayed here on Earth.

All the information gathered from the project will be used to help Canadian scientists understand some of the issues related to long-term space travel.

"Once we submit our results to the Tomatosphere website, we'll find out which package of seeds went to space and which ones did not and see if that affected their germination rate," said Sarah Robinson, a teacher at the school. 

Greenhouse club member Shaiane Kootook shows off a plant growing in the greenhouse at Netsilik School in Taloyoak, Nunavut. (Courtesy Gina Pizzo )
Robinson said the students will get to see how their findings stack up to those from other schools across the country, but said they're mostly excited to find out which seeds were in space, something they won't find out until just before school ends for the summer and they've submitted their findings. 

"It's a little mind blowing to think about how far the seeds have traveled," Robinson said.

"Space is not something a lot of us really think of being able to go to, so the fact that the seeds have been there and survived and came back is pretty interesting for them."