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Space Moon

NASA Will Send Seeds to the Moon In 2015 92

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the gardening-for-nerds dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Telegraph reports that NASA plans to send turnip, cress, and basil seeds to the Moon inside a specially constructed canister, known as the Lunar Plant Growth Chamber. The chamber will carry enough air for 10 days and NASA says the air in the chamber would be adequate to allow the seeds to sprout and grow for five days. It is hoped that the latest experiment will help to pave the way for astronauts to grow their own food while living on a lunar base. NASA says it will use natural sunlight to germinate the plants inside the chamber and the seeds will grow on pieces of filter paper laden with nutrients. 'If we send plants and they thrive, then we probably can. Thriving plants are needed for life support — food, air, water — for colonists. And plants provide psychological comfort, as the popularity of the greenhouses in Antarctica and on the Space Station show.' The Lunar Plant Growth Chamber is expected to weigh around 2.2lbs and will also carry 10 seeds each of basil and turnips. Upon landing on the Moon a trigger would release a small reservoir of water to wet the filter paper and initiate the germination of the seeds. Photographs of the seedlings would be taken at regular intervals to monitor their progress and compare them to seedlings being growing in similar conditions on Earth."
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NASA Will Send Seeds to the Moon In 2015

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  • Re:Basil? (Score:5, Informative)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -retrograde.com'> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:28PM (#45598895) Homepage

    If you look at the choices they're different types of plants that provide different things: Basil / Cress, seasoning, greenery -- You eat the leaves. Turnip, a tuberous plant with starch / calories -- you eat the root. I recall a prior story about this that also listed Sunflower seeds: Oils, proteins -- You eat the seeds; And another small flowering plant which herpetologists have gene sequenced and use as a model... Can't recall its name, ATM.

    From TFSA (the fucking space agency): [nasa.gov]

    Plant growth at Earth gravity has been well studied and there has been a lot of research on plant growth in microgravity on Shuttle and Space Station. Recently, ISS payloads have been able to simulate partial gravity (eg. Kiss et al. 2012, Planta 236, 635-645.). The surface of the Moon however is the only location in which the effects of both lunar gravity and lunar radiation on plant growth can be studied. Eventually human exploration of the Moon will require plant growth systems for life support. Germination is the first step in plant growth and thus forms the focus of this first experiment. We will also look for phototropism and circumnutation. The basic data from the experiment would be the growth rate, expressed as leaf area, over time. This would be extracted from images of the plant growth area. In addition image data would be collected to investigate both phototropism (plant motion in response to changes in position of the light source) and circumnutation (plant circular motion). The growth and movement of the plants on the Moon would be compared to similar data from Earth controls in identical growth units.

    The growth rates will be important for determining how much space will be required to grow food to feed Astronauts who take extended trips to the moon base. Of course it'll have the crew rotated like the ISS due to atrophy in weaker gravity, but they may be able to stay longer on the moon's gravity than in orbital microgravity.

    This research isn't a waste of money or publicity thing. The question isn't can we grow a plant on the moon, it's can we grow tasty edible things up there and eventually get a few of our eggs out of this one basket. The moon is made of the same ratios of elements the Earth is. This means we may eventually be able to dome over some craters or caves / mines, and get plants and microbes -- possibly genetically engineered life -- to break down the rock into organic chemical rich dirt and air, then grow other crops. We're a long way away from bio-dome construction and lunar microbes; However, we have the technology to launch and connect a lunar habitat, and possibly grow plants therein -- We already know for sure that plants can grow in near zero G.

    Exposing seeds to UV or Cosmic Rays is one way to accelerate mutation and this is currently used to speed up cultivation of desirable traits in crops -- Moon crop technology could help feed people on Earth. I always think about space exploration when I brush my teeth with the non-toxic toothpaste and clean water sanitation system that NASA invented for Astronauts and terra lubbers alike.

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