GAINESVILLE, FLA. -- Scientists have grown plants in soil from the Moon, a first in human history and a milestone in lunar and space exploration.
In a new paper published in the journal Communications Biology, University of Florida researchers showed that plants can successfully sprout and grow in lunar soil. Their study also investigated how plants respond biologically to the Moon’s soil, also known as lunar regolith, which is radically different from soil found on Earth.
This work is a first step toward one day growing plants for food and oxygen on the Moon or during space missions. More immediately, this research comes as the Artemis Program plans to return humans to the Moon.
“Artemis will require a better understanding of how to grow plants in space,” said Rob Ferl, one of the study’s authors and a distinguished professor of horticultural sciences in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
Even in the early days of lunar exploration, plants played an important role, said Anna-Lisa Paul, also one of the study’s authors and a research professor of horticultural sciences in UF/IFAS.