Grow plants on the lunar soil: the necessary step for the colonization of our satellite has been taken

For the first time, scientists have grown plants in the soil from the moon collected by NASA's Apollo astronauts. The researchers had no idea if something would sprout in the hard lunar land and wanted to see if this soil could be used by the next generation of lunar explorers. as a basis for agricultural cultivation and therefore as a sustenance for life The results have been surprising

"Cabbage! Plants actually grow in moon dust. It's not a joke!" said Robert Ferl of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The downside was that after the first week, the roughness and other properties of the lunar soil put so much stress on the small flowering plants that they grew slower than the seedlings planted in the simulated lunar soil used on earth. Most of the lunar plants remained small in size.

The findings were published Thursday in Communications Biology.

The land most exposed to solar wind and surface radiation was the most hostile to plant life. According to the scientists, the Apollo 11 samples, exposed to the elements for an extra couple of billion years due to the older surface of the Sea of ​​Tranquility, were the least conducive to growth.

"This is a big step forward for lunar cultivation," said Simon Gilroy, a space plant biologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who played no role in the study. "The real next step is to go and do it on the surface of the moon."

Moon dust is full of tiny shards of glass from micrometeorite impacts that have even worn the astronauts' moon suits. One solution could be to dig deeper soil, resulting from lava flows, more suitable for cultivation-

Only 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of lunar rocks and soil were reported by six Apollo crews. Most of the lunar stash remained locked away, forcing researchers to experiment with simulated terrain made of volcanic ash on Earth. NASA finally distributed 12 grams to University of Florida researchers early last year and the

The next step will be to understand the organic qualities of lunar plants. While they do not appear toxic, some of them have changed color from green to purple, so further investigation is needed.

"The fact that whatever has grown means we have a very good starting point, and now the question is how we can optimize and improve," said Sharmila Bhattacharya, scientist at NASA's space biology program,

Florida scientists hope to recycle their lunar soil by the end of the year, planting several plants to see which is best.

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This is a machine translation of a post published on Scenari Economici at the URL on Fri, 13 May 2022 14:31:55 +0000.