Scientists grow plants in lunar soil for the first time

University of Florida scientists complete a world (and moon) first from . The researchers used 12 and 17 tasks, but they don’t have much work.

While a total of 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of soil and rocks have been brought back to Earth from the moon, researchers have received only 12 grams of what is known as “lunar regolith” from NASA. Still, that’s more than the four grams they claim. Scientists Rob Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul also had to patiently put their hands on the soil — they applied the samples three times over an 11-year period.

The team used thimble-sized holes in plastic plates, which are typically used to culture cells, as jars. The scientists put a gram of soil in it, added a nutrient solution, and then put in some thale cress (Arabidopsis) seeds. As part of a control group, they planted the seeds in other types of soil, including soil that mimics Martian soil, soil from extreme environments, and a substance that mimics lunar soil.

Almost all of the seeds planted in the lunar regolith germinated, but the plants eventually showed some differences from those in the control group. Some lunar soil plants grow slowly or become smaller. There were also more changes in size compared to the control cress.

scientists, they in the magazine communication biology, found that differences in the composition of lunar soil samples appeared to influence plant growth. They determined that the most struggling cress grew in so-called mature lunar soil, exposed to more cosmic winds.

In particular, as Note that samples from Apollo 11 are considered the least effective for plant growth. These were obtained from an older surface of the Sea of ​​Tranquility, which had been exposed to the environment for billions of years more. “Further characterization and optimization are required before regolith can be considered a conventional in situ resource, especially where regolith is highly mature,” the researchers wrote.

Still, the success of the experiment paves the way for the possibility of growing plants on the moon for food and oxygen, ahead of NASA Bringing humans back to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. “Artemis will need to better understand how to grow plants in space,” said one of the paper’s authors, the Phil Distinguished Professor of Horticultural Science and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida Institute for Food Research.

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