Major break through in Space research as scientists have successfully grown plants in moon soil Major break through in Space research as scientists have successfully grown plants in moon soil

Major break through in Space research as scientists have successfully grown plants in moon soil


One small pot of soil, one giant leap for man's knowledge of space agriculture: scientists have grown plants for the first time in lunar soil brought back by Apollo astronauts.

Researchers hope that one day they will be able to grow plants directly on the Moon, thanks to the groundbreaking experiment, which was published in the journal Communications Biology on Thursday. Future space missions would save time and money by allowing for longer and farther journeys.

However, the authors of the study from the University of Florida say there is still a lot more research to be done on the subject, and they plan to leave no stone unturned.

"This research is critical to NASA's long-term human exploration goals," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. 

"Food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space will have to be developed using resources found on the Moon and Mars."

The researchers used only 12 grammes (a few teaspoons) of lunar soil collected from various locations on the Moon during the Apollo 11, 12, and 17 missions for their experiment. They put about a gram of soil (called "regolith"), water, and the seeds in tiny thimble-sized pots. Every day, they also fed the plants a nutrient solution.

The researchers chose arabidopsis thaliana, a mustard greens relative, to plant because it grows quickly and has been extensively studied. It has a well-known genetic code and responses to hostile environments, even in space.

Seeds were planted in Earth soil as well as samples that resembled lunar and Martian soil as a control group. After two days, everything, including the lunar samples, sprouted.

"Up until about day six, every plant, whether in a lunar sample or a control, looked the same," Anna-Lisa Paul, the paper's lead author, said in a statement.

However, differences began to emerge after that. Plants in lunar samples grew at a slower rate and had stunted roots. The scientists harvested all of the plants after 20 days and studied their DNA.

The lunar plants reacted similarly to those grown in hostile environments, such as soil with too much salt or heavy metals, according to their research. Scientists want to know how to make this environment more hospitable in the future.

As part of the Artemis programme, NASA is preparing to return to the Moon with the long-term goal of establishing a permanent human presence on its surface.

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