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Scientists successfully grow plants in soil from The Moon.

Cress grown in soil from the moon
One of the cress plants grown for the study. Source: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones

Back in 1971 David Bowie asked if there was Life on Mars? Over 50 years later, whilst we might still be a while away from sustainable life on Mars we are a step closer to it on The Moon.

Scientists from the University of Florida have successfully planted cress seeds in soil collected from The Moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission.

The cress seed experiment charted the growth of cress in the soil from The Moon, with soil from Earth as the control. In week one the seeds all sprouted into seedlings, with The Moon cress tracking similarly to the Earth cress.

In the second week, Earth cress surpassed the seedlings grown in the lunar soil, however their growth still impressed the scientists. Biologist Anna-Lisa Paul said,

“For their first week or so of life, there was really no difference between the controls and the lunar plant, so there wasn’t something inherently toxic to the plants in lunar regolith [soil] that would prevent plants from growing.”

University of Florida geologist Stephen Elardo said. “That was the first step in what’s going to hopefully be a very long, multi-decade process of figuring this stuff out and when we get back to the Moon, doing it on the lunar surface.”

Cress grown with Earth soil on the left and Cress grown with soil from the moon on the right. Source UF/IFAS

NASA chief, 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.”

How the researchers got the chance to grow plants in  lunar soil

If you liked this space article, check out this article on the most distant star captured by the Hubble telescope.



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