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In Search of Moon Trees. ?

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posted on Oct, 31 2002 @ 07:27 AM
In Search of Moon Trees.

October 28, 2002

Moon tree? What's that?

They are ordinary trees of many varieties, but they are special. They were grown from seeds that were taken to the Moon in 1971 on Apollo 14. They are scattered around the globe and NASA is searching for them. NASA scientist Dave Williams has found forty of them and he's looking for more.

Stuart Roosa, Apollo 14 Command Module Pilot, in 1971.

Astronauts are allowed to take a small number of their personal belongings with them on a mission. They carry all sorts of things -- coins, stamps or mission patches. Al Shepard carried golf balls. On Gemini 3, John Young took a corned beef sandwich! In 1971, astronaut Stuart Roosa took seeds of trees.

At that time very little was known about the effects of space on living things. Scientists wanted to know what would happen to the seeds on a trip to the Moon and back. Would they still be able to sprout and grow? Would the trees be like their parent trees?

When the seeds were planted after the mission, most sprouted and formed perfect trees just like their parent trees. The trees not only grew and thrived but had healthy offspring humorously called "half-Moon" trees. Finally, in 1975, the trees were large enough to leave the lab. That's when the problems began.

Everyone wanted a Moon tree. In 1975 and 1976, trees were sent to many important places and to many important people. Trees were sent to the White House in Washington D.C., to Independence Square in Philadelphia, and to Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.

One tree went to the Emperor of Japan. Others were used to dedicate buildings. Some were planted in New Orleans because the mayor there, Mayor Moon, wanted some. There were so many requests for Moon trees that they had to produce additional seedlings from rooted cuttings of the original Moon trees.

A Moon tree at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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