(ORDO NEWS) — Remember the news that scientists managed to grow plants in lunar soil samples brought to Earth as part of three different missions of NASA’s Apollo space program? Well, it looks like we won’t be able to eat moon salad after all.
In a new interview with Astronomy Magazine, University of Florida horticultural scientist Rob Furl author of a recent communications biology study detailing the experiment brought us back to Earth by sharing just how “pathetic” the “lunar plants” turned out to be.
“Plants grown in the lunar soil tended to be smaller,” Ferl said, “and they contained purple pigments that were indicative of stress.”
The plant used in the experiment is a flowering weed called Arabidopsis Thaliana , native to Europe and Asia, which scientists love to experiment with because its entire genome has been mapped , Ferl said.
Initially, it seemed that the plant did not seem to notice the colossal difference between the nutrient-rich soil and the lunar regolith, but at some point the development of the seedlings slowed down and they began to look rather weak and sickly.
On the one hand, it is a huge leap forward that plants have been able to germinate in extraterrestrial regolith at all. However, given the end results, it looks like we’re still far from being able to grow food in a lunar greenhouse.
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