For ages, scientists are trying to find life on the moon, and make arrangements to survive on the moon. As per the scientist, people were allowed to purchase land on the moon. Neil Armstrong the first person to take a giant leap would be surprised to know that finally, the scientists have succeeded in growing plants in moon dust. NASA released the pics of the great success. Scientists have grown plants in lunar soil for the first time, an important step towards making long-term stays on the moon possible.
They have tried cultivation on arid deserts, hills and mountains, salt-affected soils, and even Mars. The scientists have now expanded their horizons and have now cultivated plants on the lunar soil collected from the moon!
In a boast to future Moon settlements, NASA planted seeds of a diminutive flowering weed called Arabidopsis thaliana in the soil from the moon – samples of which were retrieved during the NASA missions in 1969 and 1972 and it has finally sprouted! Astronauts from Apollo missions 11, 12, and 17 brought the soil to Earth. For the study, they only had 12 grams of lunar soil or a few teaspoons. Hence, Plants may effectively sprout and develop on lunar soil, as per US researchers at the University of Florida. This was a research on how plants react biologically to the lunar dirt.
The scientists devised a simple study in which they planted seeds in lunar soil, added water, nutrients, and light, and recorded the outcomes. The scientists used thimble-sized, well-in plates, and bowls normally used to culture cells to produce their tiny lunar garden. Each well served as a container.
Moon dirt is full of tiny, glass fragments from micrometeorite impacts that got everywhere in the Apollo lunar landers and wore down the moonwalkers’ spacesuits. Scientists found that the longer the soil was exposed to the harsh cosmic radiation and solar wind on the moon, the worse the plants seemed to do. According to the results published on Thursday (May 12) in Communications Biology, “The Apollo 11 samples — exposed a couple of billion years longer to the elements because of the Sea of Tranquility’s older surface — were the least conducive for growth,” according to scientists.
The long-awaited planting took place last May in a lab. The plants grown in moon soil started to show stress, developed more slowly, and ended up stunted. The regolith seeds, perhaps unsurprisingly, did less well than the comparison plants. They were slower to grow and generally littler, had more stunted roots, and were more apt to exhibit stress-related traits such as smaller leaves and deep reddish-black coloration not typical of healthy growth. They also showed gene activity indicative of stress, similar to plant reactions to salt, metal, and oxidation.
This research is critical to Nasa’s long-term human exploration goals as they need to use resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space. This proves to be an achievement that can grow food on the moon, clean the atmosphere and recycle water on earth as well.
Arabidopsis, also called thale cress, is widely used in scientific research, including previous experiments in orbit, owing to its speedy life cycle and a deep understanding of its genetics. The seeds sprouted within three days. After about a week of growth, the researchers removed all but one plant from each container. The one was left to grow until it was 20 days old, with its leaves then harvested to assess gene activity.
Earth plants could help people establish outposts in places like the moon and Mars, as depicted in the 2015 film ‘The Martian’ when an astronaut grew potatoes on the Red Planet. NASA’s Artemis program envisions people returning to the moon’s surface in the coming years! The Florida scientists hope to recycle their lunar soil later this year, planting more thale cress before possibly moving on to other vegetation. Nasa plans to land humans on the moon for the first time since 1972 in a mission scheduled for 2025.
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