Plants grown in moon soil from the Apollo missions

If you struggle to keep an indoor plant like me alive, the idea of ​​growing plants in moon soil seems out of this world.

A team of scientists from the University of Florida has shown that it can be done by successfully growing the plant Arabidopsis taliana In soil samples collected during Apollo 1112 and 17 Lunar travels. Arabidopsis talianaAlso known as thale cress, it is a small flowering plant belonging to the Brassicaceae family (including mustard, cabbage and radish), and is also a valuable plant used in many. Plant experiments.

Plants are essential in our ambitions for expanded space exploration. As model organisms, they provide insights into space-related phenomena such as gravity and radiation, but also provide food, oxygen, water recycling, and other essential elements for human life. Carbon Dioxide Sorting.

Although earlier extraterrestrial plant experiments relied on hydroponic systems, this experiment used lunar soil to understand how plants grow on the lunar surface. The researchers also used as a control a model of similar lunar soil simulation made from volcanic ash from Earth. Each of the Apollo mission soils had its own characteristics: the models of Apollo 11 were exposed to lunar surfaces longer than the models of the Apollo 12 or 17 missions because samples were collected from different soil layers during each mission.

These video clips show the researchers planting with lunar soil Arabidopsis (thale cress) Seeds and fruit plants.

So, how did the Moon Garden grow?

The results were mixed. All models Sprouted Usually 48-60 hours after planting, lunar seedlings show normal stems and cotyledons (first leaves emerging from seed). From the sixth day, the researchers found rooting roots in lunar specimens compared to volcanic ash plants. From the eighth day the aerial growth (above ground) became slower and more variable: the lunar plants took longer to form leaves, and grew smaller leaves compared to the controls of the earth. The plants grown in the Apollo 12 and 17 models performed better than those grown in the Apollo 11 soil.

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Genetic analysis of low-healthy-looking lunar plants More than 1,000 stress-related genes for volcanic ash plants have been revealed at different stages. The Apollo 11 plants expressed more genes differently compared to the Apollo 12 and 17 models. Of these genes, 71% are related to stress caused by salts, metals and molecules containing reactive oxygen. Researchers believe that this may have been due to increased cosmic rays and solar wind damage to the lunar soil.

Although the plants thrive less, the experiment proved to be lunar soil Can Plant life support; An important step in our understanding of the moon. Unfortunately, at the time of publication, researchers had no idea what Moon-Cress’s flavor or cooking tips were.

Researcher Rob Ferrell weighs lunar soil. Soil samples were sealed in vials from the time of Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions to the moon. Credit: Tyler Jones, UF / IFAS
Moon, Moon, Soil, Plants, Genetics, Space
Harvesting the Arabidopsis plant growing in lunar soil. Credit: Tyler Jones, UF / IFAS
Moon, Moon, Soil, Plants, Genetics, Space
Placing a plant grown during the experiment in a vial for genetic analysis at the end. Credit: Tyler Jones, UF / IFAS

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