Researchers Managed To Grow Plants Using Lunar Soil

By , in Sci/Tech on . Tagged width: ,

Lunar soil carried back by Apollo astronauts 50 years ago has been successfully cultivated by scientists for the first time ever. Humans will return to the moon by the year 2025 as part of NASA’s Artemis spacecraft mission. A crewed landing on the moon hasn’t occurred since 1972’s Apollo 17. A collaborative lunar station is being built by the United States, China, and Russia as part of their lunar research efforts.

In recent decades, the moon has fallen by the wayside for space scientists and astronauts because of NASA’s and other space organizations’ focus on Mars. In the meantime, though, things are set to change, particularly with the announcement of the Artemis program that was made in 2017. NASA intends to investigate the lunar South Pole as part of the program and to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon.

Growing plants on the moon

Researchers from the University of Florida Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research released a report in the journal Communications Biology in which they claimed to have grown thale cress seeds (scientific name: Arabidopsis thaliana) in vials of lunar regolith. Lunar soil includes glass particles that are very sharp and angular.  The same as terrestrial soil, it includes metallic iron and is devoid of biological stuff. Scientists were doubtful whether the seeds will germinate due to the huge changes in soil qualities between Earth and the Moon, but to their astonishment, they did.

Research on plants in lunar regolith was less successful than on Earth’s volcanic ash, however, since they grew slower and did not produce as much biomass. Plants in “mature” lunar soil, which has been exposed to cosmic rays and solar wind for an extended period of time, had the greatest difficulty surviving, according to the researchers. Volcanic ash was chosen as a controlled ingredient because of its similarity to lunar regolith in terms of chemistry and particle size.