NASA grows plants on lunar regolith – IT Pro – .Geeks

NASA scientists have succeeded in growing small plants in containers of lunar regolith. The sprouting greenery was not as robust as plants grown in terrestrial soil, but it is remarkable that they grew on the nutrient-poor material, according to NASA.

Scientists planted seedlings of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana in small tubes, each filled with just one gram of lunar regolite. Regolite is material from the surface of planets and moons. That material came from the Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions. The samples had been taken for further study one day, using more modern techniques. The researchers placed the tubes in a clean room and added food daily. after two days the plants sprouted† The main aim was to study whether and, if so, how the different samples influenced growth.

Anna-Lisa Paul, also a professor of horticultural science at the University of Florida, compared the result with Arabidopsis seedlings in terrestrial soil and in nutrient-poor material designed to simulate lunar regolite, including volcanic ash. In the beginning the growth was even, but after day six it became clear that the moon plants were less robust than those of the control groups. The plants grew more slowly and the roots were not fully grown. The degree of robustness was found to be different depending on the sample used. Plants grown in the Apollo 11 samples were not as robust as the other two sets. After 20 days, the team ground up the plants to study the RNA.

NASA calls the research critical to NASA’s long-term goals. “We need to use resources on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and working in deep space,” said NASA employee Bill Nelson. The Dutch name for Arabidopsis thaliana is Zandraket. It is an annual hardy plant that thrives on sandy soils and is also widely used for genetic research due to its short life cycle and the small surface area required for growth.

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