Biologists grow plants on asteroid soil

(ORDO NEWS) — The addition of moss made it possible to obtain sprouts of pepper, radish and lettuce on a black carbonaceous chondrite simulant.

Not only designers, engineers and astrophysicists, but also biologists are preparing for the future development of the solar system.

In order to provide the habitable space bases and crews with everything necessary for life to the fullest extent, they learn to grow crop plants in orbit, on the lunar and even Martian soil.

And recently it was possible to show that it is possible to “harvest” even from asteroids.

Sherry Fieber-Beyer and her colleagues at the University of North Dakota used a carbonaceous chondrite simulant.

Chondrites are the most common type of meteorites that fall to Earth and contain round silicate inclusions. Carbonaceous are not so common and make up less than five percent of the total number of chondrites.

However, they are distinguished by a particularly diverse composition, containing carbon, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, and sometimes simple organic compounds.

Theoretically, when humans begin to mine the mineral resources of asteroids, carbonaceous chondrites could provide them with soil for growing fresh herbs and vegetables.

This has been demonstrated with Roman lettuce, radishes and chili peppers, plants that have previously been grown aboard the ISS.

Experiments have shown that they grow best if sphagnum moss is added to the chondrite substance imitator, which creates numerous pores in the soil that retain water.

Biologists plan to continue their experiments and now they will try to grow shaggy peas “on an asteroid”.

This plant is not widely used for food, but it is widely grown for food for pasture animals, as well as to increase the yield of fields.

Scientists are going to let them grow, die and decompose in such soil – it is assumed that such an additive will be more useful than sphagnum.

In addition, it will be easier and cheaper to send a cargo of pea seeds to a distant asteroid than green moss.

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