So that stays outside Earth can be longer, ensuring the health of astronauts, it is important that it is possible to grow plants in some way. For the first time, a group of scientists has managed to do it on lunar soil.
Becoming a possibility could be an important element in future missions.
A group of scientists at the University of Florida has grown a plant on lunar soil for the first time. Since they didn’t fly to the moon, NASA brought the moon to them, providing them with samples of lunar soil taken at different locations during three Apollo missions five decades ago.
This research is critical to NASA’s long-term human exploration goals, as we will need to utilize resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space.
This fundamental research into plant growth is also a key example of how NASA is working to unlock agricultural innovations that could help us understand how plants can overcome stressful conditions in food-scarce areas here on Earth.
Said NASA chief Bill Nelson.
Studying cultivation possibilities is important for future lunar missions
Scientists placed seeds of the Arabidopsis plant in small samples of nutrient-poor lunar soil and waited to see if anything happened. Although shoots began to appear about two days after cultivation, scientists realized after the sixth day that the plants were not as healthy as they would have been if they had been planted on Earth.
After the 20th day, just before the plants began to flower, the team harvested them, ground them and studied their RNA (ribonucleic acid). This is a nucleic acid present in all living cells, which has structural similarities to DNA.
The results of this study confirmed that the plants had experienced stress and had responded similarly to how the Arabidopsis plant responds in other hostile environments – for example, soils with an abundance of salt or heavy metals. In addition, the scientists realized that the quality of lunar soil varies, as one sample produced poorer growth results than the others.
That said, the team intends to use the lunar soil samples to grow more seeds and effectively understand their potential.
The results of this and other similar studies could have significant implications for future long-duration space missions, as it will allow astronauts to consume fresher food than what they have access to now.
Source: Pplware by pplware.sapo.pt.
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