updated - January 18, 2020 Saturday EST
Japanese scientists have found that a cherry tree, which started as a pit that was launched into space for an education experiment, has grown five years ahead of trees on Earth.
Botanists say that it takes almost 10 years after a cherry tree sprouts before it begins to produce buds, according to Malaysian Digest. This cherry tree has able to achieve that only four years after sprouting
"It is difficult for us to judge why this has happened, but one reason the tree has grown so fast may be related to space rays," said Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, a researcher at the University of Tsukuba. "We have to study this further and repeat our experiments on earth to try to understand the mechanisms that are at work."
The tree started out as a cherry stone that was created from the fruit of a 7th Century Chujohimeseigan-zakura cherry tree from the Ganjoji temple, The Inquisitr reported. The stone was chosen for a project to collect seeds from different Japanese cherry trees and launch them into space. The stones were sent to the International Space Station (ISS) in November 2008 and returned to Earth in July 2009 after circling Earth 4,100 times.
When the stones returned with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, only a few of them were given special care at nurseries close to the Ganjoji temple. Most of the stones were returned to their places of origin.
The select few were taken care of by botanist Takao Yoshimura, who covered the stones with soil and moss, Malaysian Digest reported. The "Space Cherry Tree" reached four meters within four years.
The tree blossomed on April 1, and reports say that four other saplings from the experiment are blossoming at an accelerated rate, The Inquisitr reported.
Tomita-Yokotani said the discovery opens up the possibility for large-scale agricultural plants in space, which can be used to grow crops faster than it can be done on Earth, Malaysian Digest reported.
"These pips were in an environment on the ISS that was suitable for humans, but it would be necessary to develop enclosed ecosystems on planets that do not have an atmosphere," Tomati-Yokotani said.
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