Wow! NASA grows plants in Moon soil- Impossible made possible
In a fascinating development, a group of NASA funded scientists have been able to grow plants in lunar soil for the first time ever. This is no minor feat and it was considered an impossible task around the scientific community due to the poor nutrient content in the moon’s soil.
The idea of growing plants in the lunar soil dates back almost fifty years to the Apollo missions, according to NASA. It was the vision of the scientists and astronauts who were involved in the Apollo programme to bring back lunar soil, called Regolith, with its missions and save it for future research. And now, the scientists and researchers have done the impossible by growing plants in lunar soil.
The plant grown is called Arabidopsis thaliana, which is a well-studied plant by the scientists. The major feat was achieved by a NASA funded group of scientists at the University of Florida. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said “This research is critical to NASA’s long-term human exploration goals as we’ll need to use resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space.” He added “This fundamental plant growth research is also a key example of how NASA is working to unlock agricultural innovations that could help us understand how plants might overcome stressful conditions in food-scarce areas here on Earth.”
Robert Ferl, a professor in the Horticultural Sciences department at the University of Florida said in a paper published on May 12, 2022, in Communications Biology. “Here we are, 50 years later, completing experiments that were started back in the Apollo labs, we first asked the question of whether plants can grow in regolith. And second, how might that one day help humans have an extended stay on the Moon.”
By growing plants in the lunar soil, scientists have answered the first question, yes, it is possible to grow plants in the Regolith. The plants may not be as strong or nutrient-rich as those grown on Earth soil but this feat has paved a way for the very real possibility of growing plants on different planets someday and maybe even establishing fully fledged colonies.