Moon: Scientists have successfully grown plants in the lunar soil

WASHINGTON: It’s a small pot of clay, a huge leap forward for man’s knowledge of space agriculture: Scientists have for the first time planted plants in the lunar soil that have been brought back by astronauts in the Apollo program.
A detailed ground-breaking experiment in the journal Communications Biology on Thursday gave researchers hope that one day it would be possible to grow plants directly on the ground. The moon.
It will save future space missions a lot of hassle and expense, facilitating longer and longer distances.
However, according to the authors of the study at the University of Florida, much remains to be studied on the subject, and they do not intend to leave any stone unturned.
For their experiment, the researchers used only 12 grams (a few teaspoons) of lunar soil collected from various locations on the moon during the Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions.
In small toe-sized vessels, they put about a gram of clay (called “regolith”) and added water, then seeds. They also fed the plants a nutrient solution every day.
Researchers have chosen to plant Arabidopsis thalia, which is related to mustard greens because it grows easily and, most importantly, has been extensively studied. Its genetic code and responses to hostile environments – even in space – are well known.
As a control group, seeds were also sown in the soil Earth As well as specimens imitating the clay of the Moon and Mars.
Result: Two days later, everything sprouted, including lunar samples.
“Every plant – whether in the lunar pattern or in control – looked the same for about six days,” said Anna-Lisa Paul, the paper’s lead author, in a statement.
But then, differences began to appear: the plants in the lunar specimens grew more slowly and the roots stopped.
After 20 days, the scientists harvested all the plants, and conducted a study on their DNA.
Their analysis shows that lunar plants react just like plants grown in hostile environments, such as very saline soils or heavy metals.
In the future, scientists want to understand how to make this environment more hospitable.
NASA Artemis is preparing to return to the moon as part of its program, with the long-term goal of establishing a permanent human presence on its surface.


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