Home Science & Technology month: Scientists have successfully grown plants in the soil since the moon

month: Scientists have successfully grown plants in the soil since the moon


WASHINGTON: It’s one little pot of soil, one giant leap for human knowledge of space farming: Scientists first grew plants in lunar soil brought in by astronauts as part of the Apollo program.
The groundbreaking experiment, detailed in the journal Communications Biology on Thursday, gave researchers hope that one day it will be possible to grow plants directly on The moon.
This would save a lot of hassle and expense in future space missions, facilitating longer and longer journeys.
However, according to the authors of the study from the University of Florida, much remains to be learned on this topic, and they intend not to leave a stone unturned.
For their experiment, the researchers used only 12 grams (several teaspoons) of lunar soil collected from various places on the moon during the Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions.
In tiny jars the size of a thimble, they placed about a gram of soil (so-called “regolith”) and added water, then seeds. They also fed the plants a nutritious solution every day.
The researchers decided to plant Arabidopsis Italian, a relative of mustard, because it grows easily and, most importantly, has been carefully studied. Its genetic code and response to a hostile environment – even in space – are well known.
As a control group the seeds were also planted in soil with Earth as well as patterns that mimic lunar and Martian soil.
The result: two days later everything sprouted, including lunar samples.
“Each plant – in the lunar sample or in the control – looked the same until about the sixth day,” said Anna-Lisa Paul, lead author of the article.
But after that differences began to appear: plants in lunar specimens grew more slowly and had short roots.
After 20 days, scientists collected all the plants and studied their DNA.
Their analysis showed that lunar plants reacted in the same way as plants grown in hostile environments, such as soil with too much salt or heavy metals.
In the future, scientists want to understand how to make this environment more hospitable.
NASA is preparing to return to the moon under the Artemis program with the long-term goal of establishing a strong human presence on its surface.

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