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NASA plans to grow plants on the moon


Posted on Thursday, 28 November, 2013 | Comment icon 19 comments

The mission aims to see the first plants grown on the moon. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS
One of NASA's new upcoming projects will attempt to grow plants on the moon for the first time.
The Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team consists of scientists, students and volunteers who will attempt to do what nobody has ever done before by trying to grow plants from seeds on the lunar surface inside specially designed aluminum capsules.

The self-contained environments will be filled with everything the plants need to grow in addition to a wide array of scientific instrumentation and recording devices. A selection of arabidopsis, basil, sunflowers, and turnips will be grown in the experiment.

Scheduled for 2015, the mission will most likely hitch a ride to the moon on the winning spacecraft of Google's Lunar X Prize, a competition aimed at giving private companies the chance to win a large cash prize for being the first to land a robot on the moon. By taking advantage of the opportunity to go private for the mission NASA stands to save countless millions of dollars in costs.

"Whenever we do spread life beyond our own planet, it will fundamentally change our cultural perception of what is possible," said Dr. Pete Worden of NASA’s Ames Research Center. "The first picture of a plant growing on another world – that picture will live forever. It will be as iconic as the first footprint on the moon."

Source: Forbes | Comments (19)

Tags: Moon, NASA


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by seeder on 28 November, 2013, 12:13
I have a vague memory that scientists have successfully grown plants in lunar soil - either actual material returned to Earth on an Apollo mission or a closely matching simulant. However I'll leave it to the experts to determine whether it'd be better to grow plants hydroponically or in lunar soil. I suspect the former, given that grains of lunar soil are extremely rough and abrasive. Yes I think hydroponics is the way to go...heres a page on plants grown on the ISS http://news.nationalgeographic.co.uk/news/2012/121207-plants-grow-space-station-science/
Comment icon #11 Posted by Frank Merton on 28 November, 2013, 12:15
If they grew enough cactus it would transform the moon into the wild west. And enough rice and bananas and coconuts and we could all live there.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Sundew on 28 November, 2013, 16:09
Try the Moonflower Vine (Calonyction aculeatum) it grows like a weed on Earth!
Comment icon #13 Posted by ROGER on 28 November, 2013, 20:27
Look what happened with the Biosphere experiments . Lot's of money to prove it wouldn't work .
Comment icon #14 Posted by Sundew on 29 November, 2013, 3:50
Look what happened with the Biosphere experiments . Lot's of money to prove it wouldn't work . It's hard to put a planet's ecosystem in a bottle. Even if it had worked flawlessly, it's another matter to transport all that water/soil/biomass to space and achieve the same results. If you ever saw "Silent Running" it was a nice idea, but not necessarily practical.
Comment icon #15 Posted by DieChecker on 29 November, 2013, 17:54
The Question: Really! On the space station they aren't exposed to 2 weeks of day light followed by 2 weeks of night. The Answer: ....there is no point carrying out an experiment to see if plants can survive in conditions that you know they can't.
Comment icon #16 Posted by The New Richard Nixon on 29 November, 2013, 20:12
Look what happened with the Biosphere experiments . Lot's of money to prove it wouldn't work . I believe recently that program has started up again
Comment icon #17 Posted by Calibeliever on 29 November, 2013, 20:42
What's truly amazing about this is the cost of the project. Pennies on the dollar to what it would have cost just a decade ago. As soon as there is a viable economic reason to go to the moon this sort of thing will become commonplace very quickly. With a cost of just a million or two, private entrprise is going to start dreaming up all sorts of things to try up there. Pretty cool.
Comment icon #18 Posted by seeder on 29 November, 2013, 20:46
What's truly amazing about this is the cost of the project. Pennies on the dollar to what it would have cost just a decade ago. As soon as there is a viable economic reason to go to the moon this sort of thing will become commonplace very quickly. With a cost of just a million or two, private entrprise is going to start dreaming up all sorts of things to try up there. Pretty cool. Well keep your eyes on the Chinese then...they are just about to land on the moon..and have real plans for a moonbase
Comment icon #19 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 30 November, 2013, 17:10
Look what happened with the Biosphere experiments . Lot's of money to prove it wouldn't work . The Biosphere 2 experiments were to demonstrate that a closed system could work. You are right, they failed to do that. What they did not demonstrate (and were not designed to demonstrate) is whether planets could be grown on the Moon (or any other celestial body) in a non-closed system (i.e. water, oxygen, etc could be added from an outside source). The discovery of water ice at the lunar poles means that future Moon colonies have a potential source of water and oxygen that does not need to be flown... [More]


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