Scientists grow plants in lunar soil samples

Is it possible to grow plants on the moon?

So far, it has been possible to grow them in lunar soil samples at the University of Florida

Even for researchers, it was surprising, says Robert Ferl, a researcher at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida.

“The first message was, ‘How wonderful!’ Plants can grow in lunar soils. In addition, we have now learned that there are some things we need to know and be able to do better if we want to cultivate. “

Researchers at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida conducted an experiment on the lunar soil that Neil Armstrong and his crew brought to Earth during Operation Apollo 11 more than 50 years ago.

Biologist and geneticist Anna-Lisa Paul explains, “During the first week of life, there really was no difference between controls and lunar plants. We just need to figure out how the negative effects can be mitigated.”

**A year ago. In several mini-capsules, watercress seeds were placed per gram of lunar soil. ** Although the researchers found that the shoots grew more slowly and had stunted roots, the results were considered encouraging.

Geologist Stephen Elardo says, “This was the first step we hope will be a very long, decades-long process to find this material and when we return to the moon, do it on the surface of the moon.

Growing food a month would be a giant step forward for future astronauts. The study is topical for NASA, which is preparing for a lunarized and robotic study through the Artemis program.

“This research is critical to NASA’s long-term human research goals,” said Bill Nelson, director of the U.S. Space Agency. “We need to use the resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living in deep space.”

For your experience the researchers used only 12 grams of lunar soil (or a few teaspoons) collected from various locations on the Moon during Apollo flights..

In small thimble-sized pots, about a gram of soil – regolite – was placed at a time, water and then seeds were added. The nutrient solution was also added daily.

At the same time, the seeds were sown in the soil of our own earth and samples of the soil of the Moon and Mars for comparison.

After two days, the seeds of the lunar samples germinate.

“All the plants in both the lunar soil samples and the control samples looked the same on the sixth day,” said Anna-Lisa Paul, lead author of the study.

But after that, it turned out that the plants on the moon grew more slowly and had stunted roots.

After 20 days, the scientists collected them and examined their DNA. They found that the Moon’s plants reacted in a similar way to a hostile environment, such as soil with too much salt or heavy metals.

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

The experiments are the first to examine whether plants can grow in lunar soils, and follow 11 years of efforts to obtain rare material. Because the soil is so valuable, NASA lent it only 12 grams to the researchers who conducted the tests.

Scientists have long wondered whether the Moon could host the harvest, but as space agencies now plan to bring people back to the surface and possibly build Moon settlements for visitors, the issue has become more urgent.

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