Scientists have grown seeds in the soil from the moon, collected during NASA’s Apollo missions in 1969-1972, a first in human history and a milestone in lunar and space exploration. Researchers from University of Florida showed that plants can successfully sprout and grow in lunar soil.
“This research is critical to NASA’s long-term human exploration goals as we’ll need to use resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space,”NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
On May 12 researchers from the University of Florida planted seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering weed native to Eurasia and Africa. They had only 12 grams of lunar soil to do the experiment. Only one gram of regolith allotted for each plant. Arabidopsis is widely used in the plant sciences because its genetic code has been fully mapped. Growing Arabidopsis in the lunar soil allowed the researchers more insight into how the soil affected the plants, down to the level of gene expression.
“After two days, they started to sprout!” said Anna-Lisa Paul, who is also a professor in Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida, and who is first author on the paper. “Everything sprouted. I can’t tell you how astonished we were! Every plant – whether in a lunar sample or in a control – looked the same up until about day six.”
It was observed that the plants grown in lunar regolith were different from those grown from the Earth’s soil after day six. The growth of these plants in each sample were also different, some of the plants grown in the lunar soils were smaller, grew more slowly or were more varied in size than their counterparts.
The experiment is done in Earth’s gravity. Scientists believe that it would absolutely be different if done in moon