Plants grown in moon soil for the first time

American scientists have grown plants in soil from the moon for the first time. The discovery that plants can germinate in alien soil could be of great importance for future space missions, but may also have applications here on Earth.

“Everything germinated. We were really surprised,” says one of the scientists, Anna-Lisa Paul, enthusiastically. “We were really perplexed, we had not predicted this.”

The researchers had previously grown plants in terrestrial soil that closely resembles lunar soil. That is why, in exceptional cases, NASA gave them the opportunity to conduct another experiment with real lunar dust: the team was given 12 grams of material collected during Apollo missions 11, 12 and 17.

The team used tiny flower pots the size of a thimble to germinate the plants. Each time 1 gram of soil, nutrients, water and some seeds of the flower Arabidopsis were placed in it. This plant was chosen because it is rigid and its entire genome has been mapped.

The seeds sprouted within three days. Up to about six days, the plants developed like their counterparts that were planted in control soil, volcanic earth that most closely resembles lunar soil in structure and composition.

After six days it turned out that the moon plants were having a bit more trouble. The plants remained smaller, the leaves discolored and the roots appeared to reach less deeply. The team reasons that this is partly because the grains of the lunar soil, regolith, are sharper than those of soil on Earth. That made the path of the roots more difficult.

On the left the better developed plants from the NASA control group

Nevertheless, the researchers are enthusiastic. “In the future, we may want to use the moon as a springboard for longer space missions. Then we can use soil that’s already there,” said co-author Rob Ferl. Moon fields may then provide food, but they can also provide oxygen. He therefore does not rule out the possibility that NASA will one day send moon farmers into space.

NASA itself points out that the research may not only benefit astronauts in the future. Growing plants in this raw soil could also lead to insights into how plants on Earth can be grown in radically different soil.

NOS media

There is a first time for everything, if it is the first time, plants on the moon, if there is also water, I have not heard of it yet, but suppose it is only a matter of time and then the moon will become a habitable one environment perhaps. az

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