Plants Grow in Lunar Soil for the First Time

Half a century ago, Apollo astronauts brought back samples of lunar rock and dust that researchers at the University of Florida recently planted thale cress seeds into and, for the first time, grew edible plants. At first the samples were averse to water, requiring an additional nutrient solution, but eventually they sprouted, looking verdantly green for a time before turning slightly purple yet remaining safe to eat. While it wouldn’t be very tasty, the breakthrough germination confirms that life can be grown on the moon and in space where astronauts may need to rely on on-site resources for longer missions. “The idea of bringing lunar soil into a lunar greenhouse is the stuff of exploration dreams,” says Robert Ferl, a co-author of this study. “If you look back at science fiction, plants have always been part of the deep exploration agenda.” Read more about what this entails for future space missions at The Washington Post.

Image courtesy of Tyler Jones/University of Florida, IFAS