Scientists grow plants in soil from the moon for the first time

Scientists from the University of Florida have completed a world (and lunar) first from . The researchers used the samples he obtained And 12 and 17 are important, but they didn’t have much to work with.

While 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of soil and rock have been returned to Earth from the Moon, the researchers received only 12 grams of what’s called “lunar regolith” from NASA. However, this was more than the four grams they asked for. Scientists Rob Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul had to be patient to get their hands on the soil, too — they advanced three times over the course of 11 years for samples.

The team used thimble-sized wells in plastic dishes, which are typically used for cell culture, as pots. Scientists put a gram of soil in each of them, added a nutrient solution and then put a little cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) seeds. They planted the seeds in other types of soil as part of a control group, including simulated Mars soil, soil from harsh environments, and a substance that mimics lunar soil.

Almost all of the seeds planted grew in the lunar regolith, but the plants eventually showed some differences from those grown in the control group. Some earthen moon plants grew more slowly or were smaller. There was more variance in sizes than in the control group, too.

Scientists who in the magazine Communication biologyIt was found that differences in the composition of lunar soil samples seem to have influenced plant growth. They determined that the love of the cress that suffered the most grew in what is known as the ripe lunar soil, which is exposed to more cosmic winds.

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In particular, as It is noted that the Apollo 11 samples are considered the least effective in growing plants. It was obtained from the most ancient surface of the Sea of ​​Tranquility, which has been exposed to the environment for more than two billion years. The researchers write that “further characterization and optimization will be required before regolith can be considered a routine in-situ resource, particularly in sites where regolith is very mature.”

However, 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 require a better understanding of how plants are grown in space,” Ferrell, one of the paper’s authors and distinguished professor of horticultural sciences at the UF Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences, said.

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