Target Artemis program is to get people back to the moon. Even to create a space base there, serving as a springboard for traveling to other places, for example, Mars. But for this it would be necessary to find ways to exist in an environment that, as they say, is not the most favorable for this. And this implies, for example, the search for ways get food. We can take them from Earth, but if we want to spend a lot of time on our satellite, it would be ideal to grow them. For this reason, a group of scientists from University of Florida work has already been set in motion to see if it is possible to grow plants on the soil of the moon. But they did not go there, but resorted to some of the samples brought to Earth during the Apollo missions.

It was difficult to get permission to use soil samples from the moon. In fact, the authors of the study just published in Connection with nature they passed 11 years trying. It is no less, because samples are limited, and it has incalculable historical and scientific value. In addition, not all of them survived, some had to be thrown away after they were taken out of prison for non-academic purposes. It happened a few years ago when two NASA students decided it would be nice to have sex on moon dust.

For all these reasons, these scientists have received only 12 grams of soil from the moon to grow plants. Of course, this was not enough for a large garden, so everything had to be adjusted to a very small scale. However, they achieved their goal as they managed to get a piece of Arabidopsisa genus widely used in research sprouts and grows on lunar dust known as regolith. Yes, it’s true, they didn’t grow with such force as on earth. But there is hope for future missions to the moon.

Grow plants in space

Although plants are grown on the moon, or at least on lunar soil for the first time, space economy is not new. Experiments with plants were carried out precisely for many years in International Space Station (ISS). Last year, for example, they themselves raised Chile and then they made tacos with them.

But it is true that growing conditions can be controlled much better in these rooms. Perhaps when humans return to the moon, they will be able to build greenhouses like those used on the ISS, but ideally it would be to use the space that the satellite already gives us.

Chili peppers were grown on the International Space Station last year.

Two experiments were carried out in this direction. On the one hand, in 2019, China managed to germinate cotton seeds in the selenite area as part of the Chang’e-4 mission. Unfortunately, he ended up succumbing to sudden changes in temperature.

This is something that can be controlled. In fact, then the problem was a failure in his sensors, but the experiment went in that direction. Now, the seeds traveled with the ship, so they weren’t sown. right on the floor of the moon. It would be even better if, in the future, plants could be grown directly on the regolith. And this is where this latest study comes in.

Lunar Plant Research Documentation Tuesday, May 5, 2021

Mini garden on the floor of the moon

Because they only got permission to use 12 grams of soil from the moonthese scientists designed a kind of miniature garden.

used plastic wells the size of a thimble, like those used to grow cells. Approximately one gram of soil from the Moon was placed in each of them, and an aqueous solution was added with the nutrients necessary for plant growth. Then a few seeds Arabidopsis. These are interesting plants because their entire genome has been sequenced and that would be very helpful for the next step.

Plants that grew on the soil of the moon showed more signs of stress

But before that next step, they did what is known as a control crop. This consisted of sowing seeds in soil samples, which mimic the soil of the moon or marsbut they were received here on Earth.

To their delight, the plants grew both in the lunar soil samples and in the control. However, over time, its dimensions began to change. The ones that were grown in the regolith seemed to grow more slowly and with difficulty.

So they analyzed expression of each other’s genes. In other words, since they knew all the genes for this plant, they checked which ones were activated in each type of crop. Those that grew in soil samples from the Moon expressed genes that are normally turn on when the plants are under a lot of stress, for example, due to high salinity or extreme temperatures. In addition, these signs of stress were more pronounced in plants grown in the soil of the moon from places more exposed to the elements. cosmic winds.

All this gives three interesting facts. To start yes you can grow plants on the soil of the moon. On the other hand, it has been noted that not all satellites are equally suitable for cultivation, since there are more stressful areas for crops. And finally we got gene expression profile which can give ideas about details that need to be improved. We still have a long way to go before we can visit the moon and establish colonies on it, so there is time to perfect the technique. At least what these scientists have done is a great start. It may not be as pleasant as having sex on regolith samples, but it could have somewhat more positive implications for the future of humanity.

Source: Hiper Textual

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