For the first time in history, in a NASA-funded study, scientists were able to grow plants in soil samples taken from the Moon 50 years ago. This step has implications not only for space exploration, but also for farming in extreme regions of the Earth.
In this project, scientists from the University of Florida grew Arabidopsis Thaliana, a branch of the broccoli family, in lunar soil samples collected from the Apollo 11, 12, and 17 missions.
The NASA press release said: “This research is critical to NASA’s long-term human exploration goals as we will need to use the resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for the life of astronauts. future astronauts and deep space activities.”
The study’s author, Anna-Lisa Paul, director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research and a research professor in the University of Florida’s Department of Horticultural Sciences, said this lunar soil sample — or a discrete layer of debris called regolith – in “powder” and “fine” form, even so, the seed successfully germinates.
According to the press release, one gram of regolith was once used to grow Arabidopsis. In addition to lunar soil, the scientists added moist soil to the seeds, along with a daily nutrient mix. For comparison, the scientists also planted the seed in volcanic ash to simulate lunar soil.
Paul said: “After 2 days, they start to germinate. Every seed germinates. I can’t tell you how surprised we were. All crops – whether grown in lunar soil or in comparison acreage – were similar up to the sixth day.”
However, when compared to plants grown on land, those grown in Moon soil and volcanic dust did not grow as well. Plants also grow differently depending on which group they are in. Some grow more slowly and have stunted roots, while others have more stunted leaves that turn red.
After 20 days, the scientists began harvesting the Arabidopsis, before they could bloom. They then ground them up so they could study their RNA. After sequencing the RNA, they found that the plants exhibited behaviors similar to those found in Arabidopsis when subjected to growing stress in harsh environments, such as when the soil was too high in iron or salt.
A NASA statement said the study will pave the way for future planting of trees on the Moon. It also raises questions about whether this study will help scientists find a way to grow crops on the Moon, and whether it will help scientists learn more about Mars and its potential. arable capacity on the Red Planet or not.
Refer to CNN