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Plants Can Grow in Lunar Soil, But They Suck at It

Of course, they didn’t do it just to see if they could. The researchers—two horticulturists and a geologist from the University of Florida—tested the plants’ viability in lunar soil to hopefully benefit future Moon or Mars landings. Space-grown plants could potentially offer fresh produce, oxygen, and water recycling to astronauts conducting these missions. If life on Mars really is in our future, space agriculture will need to step up its game. 

Lunar soil, or regolith, is a dusty byproduct of micrometeorites’ impact on the Moon’s surface. In samples obtained during the Apollo missions, the scientists planted seeds from Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant commonly used in biological experiments. The seeds sprouted within a week, but after that, confidence in their longevity waned. 

(Image: Anna-Jean Paul et al/Communications Biology)

“Our results show that growth is challenging,” reads the study, which was published in the journal Communications ...

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