A photo shows several Arabidopsis plants sprouting from lunar soil at a laboratory at the University of Florida in Gainesville. AFP
Gulf Today Report
In an advanced step towards space farming, for the first time, scientists were able to grow plants in a few grams of soil taken from the moon, which was brought back decades ago by the Apollo programme astronauts.
This success raises hopes that it will one day be possible to grow plants directly on the moon, which will save future explorers a large amount of expensive tools to take on their longer and farther space journeys.
Much research and work still needs to be done before implanting on the moon, according to a study prepared by researchers from the University of Florida and published in the journal Communications Biology.
"This study is important to NASA's long-term human exploration goals," NASA President Bill Nelson commented on the study in a statement, adding: "We will need to use the resources on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts who will live on Earth."
For their study, the researchers used only 12 grams of lunar soil (equivalent to a few teaspoons) collected from various places on the moon during the Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions. And they put in very small pots about a gram of soil (called regolith) and added to it water and then seeds, and they added a nutrient solution on a daily basis.
The mouse ear cress was chosen for planting because it grows easily and many studies have been conducted on it; its genetic code and how it interacts in hostile environments all the way to space are well-known factors.
At the same time, seeds were planted in the soil of the Earth, in addition to other seeds in samples simulating the soil of the Moon and Mars.
With the aim of using it to compare with the seeds planted in the soil of the moon. Two days later, the seeds planted in the lunar soil sprouted.
All plants, whether grown in lunar soil or in observational samples, looked similar until day six, lead study author Anna-Lisa Ball said in a statement.
But after that period, plants grown in lunar soil grew more slowly and had thin roots.
After twenty days, the scientists picked the plants and studied their DNA, and found that lunar plants responded in the same way that they interact in hostile environments, such as planting them, for example, in soil containing a large proportion of salts or heavy metals.
In the future, scientists plan to conduct research to see how to make a hostile environment more suitable for plants.
NASA is preparing to return to the moon within the framework of the "Artemis" program, with the aim of seeking to establish a sustainable human presence on it.
Half a century has passed since Nasa launched its spectacular missions to the Moon, broadcasting the first of its six to millions around the world in 1969. But since then, conspiracy theorists have poured endlessly over the footage, photography and details around the expeditions, claiming they never took place
As NASA plans to return humans to the Moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis programme, the agency has already started preparing astronauts for the challenges that they will face on the lunar surface.
NASA on Monday revealed its latest plan to return astronauts to the Moon in 2024, and estimated the cost of meeting that deadline at $28 billion, $16 billion of which would be spent on the lunar landing module.
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Pat the chicken dry with paper towel and arrange in a bowl. Season lightly with salt and coat in half the marinade.
The boutique workshop in Port Moresby hosts a group of women who specialise in intricately lacing plant fibres together to make the roomy pouches known as bilums, a symbol of Indigenous pride.