In aNASA-funded study, scientists at the University of Florida grew plants in soilcollected from the moon, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Communications Biology.
The study isparamount to NASA's long-term goals in human space exploration, NASAadministrator Bill Nelson said in a press release. The research could also haveimplications for plants growing in harsh conditions on Earth, he added.
"We'll need to use resources found on the Moon and Mars todevelop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deepspace," Nelson said.
In the study,researchers planted the seeds of Arabidopsisthaliana — a plant related to mustard greens, as well as othercruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and cauliflower — in lunar soil,which was sampled directly from the moon from missions Apollo 11, 12 and 17.
To compare, researchers also planted the seeds in a lunarsimulant, designed to closely mimic real lunar soil.
Anna-Lisa Paul, a research professor in the horticulturalsciences department at the University of Florida and the study's first author,described the samples from the moon as "fine" and"powdery." It also "sticks to everything," Paul added.
The seeds started to sprout within days of planting.
"We planted them, walkedaway for a couple of days and then when we first went back in to take a look,it was amazing to see that every plant group, all the seedlingsgerminated," said Paul, who is also the director for the University ofFlorida's Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research.