/Scientists Grow Plants in Moon Soil for First Time in Major Breakthrough

Scientists Grow Plants in Moon Soil for First Time in Major Breakthrough

Key idea: Plants grown in soil from three Apollo landing sites pave the way to sustainable lunar habitats.

Original author and publication date: Becky Ferreira – May 12, 2022

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Suddenly, the Moon doesn’t see so far away.

From the article:

In a major breakthrough, scientists have grown plants in Moon dirt, marking the first time that seeds have ever been sown in soils from an extraterrestrial body, reports a new study.

The milestone paves the way toward lunar gardens that might support future human crews on the Moon, though it’s important to note that the plants in the experiment, which were grown in three different soils returned by the Apollo 11, 12, and 17 missions, experienced stress and stunted growth compared to their counterparts planted in Earth-based materials.

For decades, people have speculated about the possibility of growing plants in extraterrestrial regolith, which is the loose material found on the Moon and other rocky bodies, because this achievement would serve as a clear stepping stone toward a more sustainable human presence on the lunar surface, and beyond. Now, it’s been achieved, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Communications Biology.

“Plants will grow in lunar regolith!” said Robert Ferl, a distinguished professor of horticultural sciences in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and senior author of the study, in an email. “Surprising? Maybe. Astounding? For sure.”

Terrestrial life can potentially live on the Moon, and for astronauts spending any time on the Moon, plants can be used for life support in ways that have till now have only been speculated about.”

READ the full article