Space: These plants grew in the soil of the moon

Tyler JonesUF/IFAS Photography by Tyler Jones

Researchers have grown plants in lunar soil in the laboratory.

Space – Is lunar soil fertile? This is the question asked by scientists at the University of Florida who, for the first time, The plants grow in just a few grams of soil that Apollo astronauts brought back decades ago. Their results were published Thursday, May 12 in the journal Communication biologyAnd It nurtures the hope that one day it will be possible to grow plants directly on the moon.

In their experiment, the researchers used only 12 grams of lunar soil (a few teaspoons) collected from various places on the planet. moon During the Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions. They then put this soil into microscopic pots before sowing the seeds there. The plant of choice is Arabidopsis thaliana, known for its ability to grow in hostile environments. In parallel, control experiments were conducted by planting the same variety in the soil of our planet.

Scientists were initially pleased to see plants grow at the same speed on the lunar and terrestrial planets. “All plants, whether in lunar soil or observational samples, looked similar until day six,” Anna Lisa Ball, lead author of the study, said in a statement. But soon the lunar plants turned out to be slower growth and stunted roots.

Space cultivation for long exploration

Twenty days later, the scientists harvested the lunar plants and studied their DNA. The conclusion of this article is mixed: plants”It grows slowly and shows more signs of stress when it grows in lunar soil samples collected during the Apollo missions than in volcanic ash from Earth,” they wrote in their study.

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So there is still a lot of work to be done before we see the development of spatial cultivation. Scientists will now seek To understand by what means the lunar environment and climate are more favorable for plants. The goal: to grow vegetation directly on the surface of the moon.

This project may sound crazy, but it’s a necessary step for envisioning longer space missions. “We will need to use the resources on moon And on Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living in deep space, NASA chief Bill Nelson commented.

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