/ 17 May 2022

Eat your space greens

Image source: UF Space Plants Lab
Image source: UF Space Plants Lab

Scientists have successfully grown edible plants in lunar soil samples collected from Apollo missions to the moon for the first time. In the NASA-funded study, researchers planted Arabidopsis thaliana seeds – a plant related to mustard greens – as well as broccoli and cauliflower in the “fine” and “powdery” lunar soil, as well as a man-made lunar soil. The seeds started to sprout in all samples within days of planting, but those planted in the genuine lunar soil did not grow as “robust” and had “stunted” roots and leaves. Harvesting the plants after 20 days, scientists said their gene patterns matched those of plants that had grown in harsh environments on Earth. The next steps are to find a way to stop those adverse reactions, which could have enormous implications for feeding future astronauts and growing food in sub-optimal conditions on Earth. And then they need to get Matt Damon’s green thumbs back into action…

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