The researchers first grew plants in lunar soil

The researchers first grew plants in lunar soil

A big step forward for space farming. For the first time in history, researchers have grown plants on a few grams of lunar soil brought back from the Apollo missions decades ago.

This success adds momentum to the hope that one day the plants will be able to grow directly Loon. This will save future explorers a lot of expensive loads on their rockets, even for long-distance missions.

There is a lot of work to be done, however, before it can be achieved. “This research is critical to NASA’s long – term human exploration mission,” said Bill Nelson, head of the U.S. space agency. To develop food resources for future astronauts on the Moon and Mars.

During the mission, the researchers used only 12 grams of lunar soil (a few teaspoons) collected from various parts of the moon for their experiments. Apollo 11, 12, 17.

Establish a sustainable human presence on the moon

In small bowls the size of a finger, they put one gram of soil (called regolith) each time, add water, and then the seeds. A nutrient solution was added daily.

Used is Arabidopsis taliana, chosen because it grows easily and, above all, because it has already been extensively studied: its genetic code is well known, as well as its behavior in hostile environments, even in space. We planted the seeds simultaneously in the soil from our own land and helped to compare the soil mimic samples of the Moon and Mars.

Result: Two days later, the seeds of the lunar samples germinated. In addition, “all the plants on the moon and in the controlled soil looked the same until the sixth day,” said Anna-Lisa Paul, lead author of the study, in a statement.

However, lunar plants were found to be slow growing and stunted. After 20 days, the scientists harvested them and studied their DNA. They found that lunar plants react similarly to adverse weather conditions, such as the presence of too much salt or heavy metals in the soil.

In the future, scientists want to understand how this environment can be more hospitable.

as well as, NASA Artemis is preparing to return to the moon as part of a program aimed at establishing a human presence there.

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