Plants in lunar soil culture!

Apollo astronauts participated in a plan that consisted of bringing back to Earth samples of lunar surface material, known as regolith, to study with the latest equipment and save it for future research not yet imagined. Fifty years later, at the dawn of the Artemis era and the upcoming return of astronauts to the Moon, three such samples have been used to successfully grow plants.

The achievement strengthens the possibility of cultivating terrestrial plants to support human outposts on other worlds. The researchers used thimble-sized plates as pots. Normally, these plastic trays are used to grow cells, then they filled each well with a gram of lunar soil, added nutrients and water, and introduced a few seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana, or field mast, a small flowering plant native to Eurasia and Africa. Each seed germinated and there were no external differences in the early stages of growth between those sown in the regolith, they grew more slowly and are generally smaller. They have somewhat stunted roots and are more likely to exhibit smaller leaves and a deep reddish-black coloration that is not typical of healthy growth. They also showed gene activity similar to plant reactions to salt, metal, and oxidation.

This study could lay the foundation for growing plants that supply oxygen and food on the Moon. Can you imagine successfully growing plants, food and so on allowing humanity at some point in the future to inhabit and perhaps colonize the moon!

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