Artemis astronauts could grow plants on the moon


When NASA sends astronauts on the Artemis mission to the lunar surface in the next few years, they should be able to grow their own salads. This is a prospect opened up by a scientific experiment in which researchers have successfully grown plants on Earth using samples of regolith, the mix of dust and Earth that coats the lunar surface.

They germinated Arabidopsis seeds ( Arabidopsis) deposited on tiny regolith samples collected half a century ago on three different Apollo missions. If the seeds germinate and grow, they won’t really thrive.


Lunar soil does not contain many nutrients plants need to grow
Stephen Heraldo of the University of Florida said in a news conference.He co-authored an article describing the research with Anna-Lisa Paul and Robert Ferl, which was published in the journal
communication biology.

Even though the way the plants grew suggested they were under stress, they survived with a little help from the team providing them with light, water and nutrients. ”
Everything sprouted. I can’t tell you how surprised we were! All plants, whether part of the lunar sample or controls, looked the same until about day six.
»

On day 16 of the experiment, plants grown in a simulated lunar matrix made of volcanic ash (left) showed marked physical differences from those grown in lunar regolith (right).

working in genetics

By the end of the first week, the plants in the regolith had slow growth, poorly developed roots and leaves, and some red spots. Subsequent genetic analysis confirmed they were stressed.

Very fine and powdery lunar regolith is a material less suitable for plant life. ” no
We wanted to use gene expression data to determine how to improve stress responses so that plants, especially crops, could grow in lunar soil with minimal impact on their health.
Anna-Lisa Paul added.

According to Robert Fair, growing plants on the moon is key to long-term stays because it not only helps provide food for astronauts and other tourists, but also clean air and water. ”
When we go somewhere in space, we always take our agriculture with us
“, he explained.”
Proving that plants can grow in lunar soil is a big step in that direction
“.

CNET.com article adapted from CNETFrance

Image: UF/IFAS/Taylor Jones

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