“Scientists have grown plants in soil from the Moon, a first in human history and a watershed moment in lunar and space exploration.
In a new research paper published in the journal Communications Biology on May 12, 2022, University of Florida scientists showed that plants can successfully sprout and grow in lunar soil. Their study also looked into how plants respond biologically to the Moon’s soil, also known as lunar regolith, which is radically different from typical soil found on Earth.
This research is a first step toward growing plants for food and oxygen on the Moon or during space missions in the future. More immediately, this research comes as the Artemis Program plans to return humans to the Moon.
“Artemis will require a better understanding of how to grow plants in space,” said Rob Ferl, one of the study’s authors and a distinguished professor of horticultural sciences in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
Even in the early days of lunar exploration, plants played an important role, said Anna-Lisa Paul, also one of the study’s authors and a research professor of horticultural sciences in UF/IFAS.
“Plants helped establish that the soil samples brought back from the moon did not harbor pathogens or other unknown components that would harm terrestrial life, but those plants were only dusted with the lunar regolith and were never actually grown in it,” Paul said.
Paul and Ferl are internationally recognized experts in the study of plants in space. Through the UF Space Plants Lab, they have sent experiments on space shuttles, to the International Space Station, and on suborbital flights.
Comment: Well, pilgrims, this is a big one. This means that we will be able to grow provisions on the moon and the potential for exhaled gases from the plants is yet to be explored. pl
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