Moon Plane(e)ts

How do you grow a flower on the moon? You planet!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Three, two, one, blast off! Next stop? The Moon! In nineteen sixty-nine, Neil Armstrong was the first human to step on the Moon. Since then, scientists have wondered: can this lunar satellite support life? 

Enter Anna-Lisa Paul and team from the University of Florida. They discovered something OUT OF THIS WORLD! 

They made a lunar garden with soil collected from three missions to the Moon. They only had twelve grams- about one tablespoon- of moon soil for plants. So, they designed a tiny garden with thimble-sized pots. 

And? To their surprise, their tiny mouse-ear cress plants grew! 

Compared to plants in volcanic ash, moon soil plants were smaller and grew more slowly. They were under a lot of stress. But the researchers think this is still a huge breakthrough for space exploration. One day, we might be able to grow food on the Moon!

With a diet like that, we’ll be practically–wait for it–weightless!

Reference: Paul, A.-L., Elardo, S. M., & Ferl, R. (2022). Plants grown in Apollo lunar regolith present stress-associated transcriptomes that inform prospects for Lunar exploration. Communications Biology, 5(1).