Scientists have grown plants on the Moon’s soil for the first time

To conduct the experiment, the scientists convinced NASA to lend some soil samples from the moon’s weathered layer, which were collected from various locations during the three Apollo missions that took place five decades ago. .

Then they planted Arabidopsis seeds in nutrient-poor lunar soil and waited to see what happened.

To the surprise of scientists, green sprouts began to appear after only 2 days. However, after the 6th day, they realized that the plants did not seem to be as healthy as when grown with Earth soil, or even the plants in the control groups (in the experiment there are usually 2 groups: the experimental group and the control group). control group; the control group was the group that received no new changes during the experiment) which used a simulated lunar soil substrate made of volcanic ash. For example, moon soil plants grow more slowly, and the roots are quite stunted, some are stunted and show signs of turning red.

Scientists planted trees on lunar soil for the first time - Photo 1.

On day 20, just before the plants started to flower, the team harvested the whole crop to study RNA (ribonucleic acid), a nucleic acid present in all living cells that is structurally similar to DNA.

The results obtained confirm that the plants are indeed under stress, and respond in the same way that regular Arabidopsis plants grown in other harsh environments, such as salt-laden or metal-contaminated soils. heavy type.

The scientists also found that the quality of the lunar soil was not uniform, with one sample showing poorer growth results than the other two.

Going forward, the team plans to use those same lunar soil samples to sow more seeds, thereby figuring out whether the first batches of plants have any effect on lunar soil – in other words. , they wanted to find out if plants could somehow improve the lunar soil, so that future generations of trees would have a less harsh growing environment.

Scientists planted trees on lunar soil for the first time - Photo 2.

This study comes as NASA is pushing ahead with its Artemis program to return humans to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo missions 50 years ago; In addition, the US Space Agency also hopes to soon be able to carry out long-term missions to Mars.

This research is crucial to the long-term goals of sending humans to space exploration, because we will need to use the resources found on the moon and Mars to develop. food sources for future astronauts who live and work in deep space” – according to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This foundational horticulture study is also a prime example of how NASA is working to create agricultural innovations that will help us understand how plants can weather extreme conditions. harsh in regions where food is scarce right here on Earth.”

It is known that astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are also experimenting with growing edible plants in a satellite with living conditions, and after many years of diligent research in space, they also planted trees with green leaves!

Reference: DigitalTrends

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