Scientists grow plants in lunar soil for the first time

University of Florida scientists have grown Arabidopsis thaliana, belonging to the cauliflower family, in lunar soil known as regolith, collected from the Moon during the Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions. NASA posted pictures of the experiment on Instagram with the caption: “To boldly go, we must boldly grow.”

Arabidopsis seeds were added to moistened lunar soil along with a daily mix of nutrients. However, the plants in the regolith didn’t grow as well as those grown in terrestrial soil. Some grew slowly and had stunted roots and leaves with a reddish colouring. They exhibited patterns seen in Arabidopsis under stress from growing in harsh environments, such as when there are too many heavy metals or salt in the soil. The plants grown in Apollo 12 and Apollo 17 regolith outperformed those grown in Apollo 11 soil, indicating that there could be pockets of richer regolith on the Moon.

The study demonstrates the possibilities of growing plants on the Moon. If plants could be a support system on the Moon or Mars, then future astronauts could grow their own food, thus River enabling them to stay for longer periods of time.

Picture Credit : Google 

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