One of the most exciting space exploration fields took place some decades ago when NASA’s Apollo missions put humans on the moon.
NASA enthusiasts may be aware that, as part of the Apollo 13 mission with Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell, a third astronaut, Stuart Rosa, remained above the satellite in a command module, accompanied by hundreds of tree seeds and other personal items.
While the mission took place, the seeds were classified and sorted, and NASA left control seeds on Earth as a reference.
While the mission counted 500 seeds of different tree species initially, the container burst open, rendering many of them useless for the experiment. The seeds orbited the satellite over thirty times before returning home, where they were planted in various places worldwide.
NASA calls them “Moon Trees,” and there are 83 of them in total, most of them in the United States, one in Europe, and two in South America.
The species include redwoods, sycamores, Douglas firs, sweet gums, and loblolly pines.
Unfortunately, nearly a third of the moon trees died since they were planted nearly five decades ago.
Many of the seeds were initially planted as a part of the country’s bicentennial in 1976.
After the seeds were recovered from their space journey, they were given to the US Forest Service to analyze and take care of until they sprouted. Some weren’t planted for years after the mission ended.
Many people forgot about the existence of the moon trees years after they were planted.
In 1996, David Williams, the former astronaut, made a personal task out of finding and cataloging all the trees. He began with a list of 22 Moon Trees, then found 80 of them, but 21 of them died, unfortunately.