8 votes

Researchers grew tiny plants in moon dirt collected decades ago

9 comments

  1. cmccabe
    Link
    If you can’t read this one due to the paywall, here’s another article from BBC News: Moon soil used to grow plants for first time in breakthrough test...

    If you can’t read this one due to the paywall, here’s another article from BBC News:

    Moon soil used to grow plants for first time in breakthrough test
    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-61434295

    1 vote
  2. [4]
    118point3ml
    Link
    What is the vitamin/mineral content of lunar soil? NASA is talking about using “resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep...

    What is the vitamin/mineral content of lunar soil? NASA is talking about using “resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space,” but, even if they can get things to grow, would these crops even be sufficiently (or at all) nutritious?

    1 vote
    1. [3]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      They'd probably need to enrich the soil with fertilizers and some kind of mineral/microorganism bath to make it viable. The Moon doesn't have a molten core to cycle minerals up with convection nor...

      They'd probably need to enrich the soil with fertilizers and some kind of mineral/microorganism bath to make it viable. The Moon doesn't have a molten core to cycle minerals up with convection nor any nitrogen or carbon in the atmosphere to fix into the soil.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        118point3ml
        Link Parent
        Fertilizer makes sense. Actually, I didn’t read the wired article at first, which addresses this question, assuming it would be paywalled, which for me it wasn’t (🤷‍♀️) but I see now the article...

        Fertilizer makes sense. Actually, I didn’t read the wired article at first, which addresses this question, assuming it would be paywalled, which for me it wasn’t (🤷‍♀️) but I see now the article says, “To make it resemble earthly soil, the experimenters needed to add some nutrients and water.”

        1 vote
        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          Yeah fertilizer goes some of the way. But there's a lot of nuances to soil quality that comes down to the microbiome of various fungi and bacteria in there. There's no substitute for biological...

          Yeah fertilizer goes some of the way. But there's a lot of nuances to soil quality that comes down to the microbiome of various fungi and bacteria in there. There's no substitute for biological processes, though there are ways to speed it up. They would have to come up with some way to populate it.

          Some of the terraforming techniques Amazonian tribes used to create terra preta might be instructive.

          2 votes
  3. [3]
    FlippantGod
    Link
    Does anyone here know of an advantage over aeroponics?

    Does anyone here know of an advantage over aeroponics?

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      At a guess; Regolith is a readily available material on the moon, and so if all it takes is some nutrient solution to make it a viable growth medium it would likely end up being far more cost...

      At a guess; Regolith is a readily available material on the moon, and so if all it takes is some nutrient solution to make it a viable growth medium it would likely end up being far more cost effective than aeroponics systems, which would require transporting all the necessary equipment up there. And aeroponics systems likely require far more consistent monitoring and regular maintenance than growing in soil would too.

      2 votes
      1. FlippantGod
        Link Parent
        I doubt it could be as space efficient however, and I would think any plants growing on the moon would receive 24/7 monitoring, at least for the near future. Edit: in the long run more efficient...

        I doubt it could be as space efficient however, and I would think any plants growing on the moon would receive 24/7 monitoring, at least for the near future.

        Edit: in the long run more efficient nutrient uptake and reduced water consumption might also favor aeroponics.

        There should be some plants that require media, that's another benefit to this research.

        1 vote
  4. Eric_the_Cerise
    (edited )
    Link
    The articles don't go into enough specifics. That said, it sounds like they did not enrich or treat the soil. Which sounds impressive ... but it should also be noted that seeds contain all the...

    The articles don't go into enough specifics.

    That said, it sounds like they did not enrich or treat the soil. Which sounds impressive ... but it should also be noted that seeds contain all the nutrients they need to sprout and grow for a week or more ... which is right about the time these lunar seedlings started to get sick.

    So honestly, this is not such a big deal. The only thing it proves is that lunar soil doesn't actively kill/destroy seeds/seedlings ... which is important, but it's a long way from this to actually growing and harvesting crops. Frankly, the vast majority of lunar crops (and all extra-terrestrial crops) will probably be grown hydroponically.

    ETA: I just read the Wired article. I assumed it was the same as the BBC article, but Wired goes into more detail ... they did add nutrients to the soil, and part of the experiment apparently was intended to see how the seedlings continue to fare after they depleted their own seed-bases resources.