When NASA was launchedReturning to the surface of the moon in the next few years, they should be able to grow their own salads. This is just one of the results of a historical experiment in which scientists used a sample of lunar material called regolith to grow plants here on Earth.
Scientists planted seeds of the mustard greens-related plant Arabidopsis in small samples of regolith collected in three different Apollo programs half a century ago.
However, although the seeds germinated and grew, they did not reproduce exactly.
“The lunar soil doesn’t contain much of the nutrients needed to support plant growth,” Stephen Erald of the University of Florida said in a press conference Wednesday.
Elardo Papers introducing research It was published Thursday in the journal Communications Biology, along with Anna-Lisa Paul and Robert Ferl.
The plants grew to show that they were feeling stressed, but with the help of the team they found a way relatively quickly by providing light, water and nutrients.
“Two days later, they started to germinate,” said Paul, a professor of horticultural science at the University of Florida. Said in a statement.. “Everything sprouted. I don’t know how surprised we were. All plants, whether moon samples or controls, looked the same until about day 6.”
By the end of their first week, regolith plants showed slower growth, stunted roots and leaves, and some red spots. Subsequent genetic analysis confirmed that the green was under stress.
The lunar regoliths are very fine and powdery, but their grains are also sharp, so don’t be fooled. Inhaling lunar dust can damage the lungs and is not particularly friendly to plant life.
“Ultimately, I would like to use gene expression data to help work on ways to improve stress response to levels where plants, especially crops, can grow in lunar soil with little impact on health. “Paul added.
Fel says growing plants on the Moon is the key to a long stay on the Moon by helping astronauts and other visitors to provide clean air and water as well as food. increase.
“When we go to space somewhere, we always have agriculture with us,” said Fel of the University of Florida. “Showing that plants grow in the lunar soil is actually a big step in that direction.”