While a total of 842 pounds (382 kg) of soil and rock were returned to Earth from the Moon, the researchers received only 12 grams of the so-called “moon” from NASA. However, that’s more than the four grams they claim. Scientists Rob Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul also had to be patient to get their hands on the soil – they applied three times in 11 years to the samples.
The team used wells as small as plastic tubes in plastic dishes, commonly used for cell culture, as pots. The scientists put a gram of soil in each of these, added a nutrient solution, and then placed a few watercress (Arabidopsis thaliana) Seeds. They seeded other soils as part of a control group, including simulated Martian soil, soil from extreme environments, and lunar soil simulant.
Nearly all of the seeds grown in the moon germinated, but the final plants showed some differences from those grown in the control group. Some shrubs on the Moon grow slower or smaller. There was more variation in size compared to the control group’s watercress.
Scientists who in the magazine Communication Biology, found that differences in the composition of lunar soil samples appeared to have influenced plant growth. They identified the most difficult type of watercress grown in soil known as mature lunar soil, which is exposed to more cosmic winds.
Especially, as note, samples from Apollo 11 are considered the least effective for growing plants. They are obtained from the older surface of the Quiet Sea, which has been exposed to the environment for more than several billion years. The researchers wrote that “further characterization and optimization is required before regolith can be considered a permanent in situ resource, especially in locations where the regolith is highly mature. “
However, the success of the experiment paves the way for the possibility of growing plants on the Moon for food and oxygen, ahead of NASA. return humans to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. “Artemis will require a better understanding of how to grow plants in space,” said Ferl, one of the paper’s authors and distinguished professor. in horticultural science at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
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