NASA experiment: radishes can grow in lunar regolith

"We're trying to prove that astronauts can grow food on the moon."

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA scientist Max Coleman tried to figure out if radishes can be grown in lunar soil.

His goal is to find out if astronauts can one day grow their own food on the lunar surface – much like Matt Damon’s character in The Martian.

Coleman chose the radish because “it has been tested before in space and germinates very, very quickly,” according to a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This is important because astronauts will only have 14 Earth days of daylight – after that there will be no Sun for another 14 Earth days.

The explorer’s plan was to grow seeds in desert sand, which is as nutritious as the lunar regolith. For some seeds, he did not give any additional fertilization, and for others only a small amount of nutrients.

“We’re trying to show that astronauts can use crop production to grow food on the moon,” Coleman told JPL.

“We want to take one small step in this direction to show that lunar soil contains nutrients for plants,” he added. “This includes getting the right chemicals to enable plants to make chlorophyll and grow cell walls.”

According to his results, radishes only need a small amount of water to germinate. In fact, they grew best when they received only minimal amounts of water.

The idea is to keep the amount of material that astronauts have to deliver to the moon to an absolute minimum. “The more you can use what you already have, the more efficient you can be,” explained Coleman.


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