This is good news for space settlement:
The scientists ran their experiment on Arabidopsis plants—a go-to species for plant biologists. The control group was germinated and grown at the Kennedy Space Center (A), while the comparative group was housed on the International Space Station (B). For 15 days, researchers took pictures of the plants at six-hour intervals and compared them. Their results surprised even them: the plants in space exhibited the same growth patterns as those on Earth.
The researchers were looking for two specific patterns of root growth: waving and skewing. With waving, the root tips grow back and forth, much like waves. Skewing occurs when a plant’s roots grow at an angle, rather than straight down. Scientists don’t know exactly why these root behaviors occur, but gravity was thought to be the driving force for both.
So much for that theory. This means the potential for fresh food at ISS, if you’re a vegetarian (or even if not). They should be learning how to do weightless hydroponics. Of course, we still don’t know if animals, and particularly humans, can gestate, or how, and that’s true of partial gravities as well. And we’re not likely to until SSI gets funding for its variable-gravity lab.