For information only - not an official document

UNIS/OS/558
28 September 2021

PRESS RELEASE

Newton's space sapling planted at the United Nations in Vienna

VIENNA, 28 September (UN Information Service) - A special apple tree grown from seeds that were taken into space, is being planted in the grounds of the Vienna International Centre (VIC) today to inspire future generations of space scientists.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) was provided with the tree and the Ambassador of the United Kingdom (UK), Corinne Kitsell and UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo planted the sapling which can be seen by visitors to the Space Exhibition at the VIC.

The young apple tree, which is presently 80 cm tall, is a descendant of the 400-year old tree, still growing at Woolsthorpe Manor in the United Kingdom, that inspired Isaac Newton's theory of gravity. The sapling was cultivated from one of the 26 seeds that were taken to the International Space Station by British/European Space Agency astronaut, Tim Peake, during his 'Principia' mission in 2015.

The seeds spent six months floating in microgravity before returning to earth in 2016 and an open competition was launched in 2019 by the National Trust and the UK Space Agency to find a home for each of the trees and to inspire future generations.

At the ceremony, Simonetta Di Pippo of UNOOSA noted Newton's legacy and said the tree reminds us how being mindful of our environment can lead to unexpected discoveries: "It is an honour for UNOOSA to plant this tree here. I am hopeful it will inspire new generations of bright minds to ask the right questions and seek answers, as so many have done in the past. In the words of the man himself, 'If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants'." 

UK Ambassador Corinne Kitsell said: "The UK is pleased that UNOOSA's bid to home a Newton space sapling was successful and that this sapling will find a permanent home in the grounds of the Vienna International Centre where diplomats meet to negotiate international law for using and exploring space safely and sustainably." She added that we need to find ways to engage people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM): "While most people would struggle to remember the formula for the gravitational force between two bodies, everyone remembers that Newton developed his ideas by watching an apple fall from the tree.  This tree helps to set science where it belongs, in the wider culture context of everyday life.  I hope that this tree and its story, as a new addition to the UN Space Exhibition, will help inspire future generations of children and visitors for years to come."   

 

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For more information, please contact:

Martin Stasko
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
Email: martin.stasko[at]un.org

 

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