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Obviously, the plants can’t be embedded into the lunar surface then left alone, so NASA is constructing a small, lightweight (a little over two pounds), self-sustaining habitat for the vegetation. The habitat will be delivered to the moon via the Moon Express, a lunar lander that’s part of the Google Lunar X Prize, a competition to create a robotic spacecraft that can fly to and land on the moon.
Once the lander arrives on the moon, water will be added to basil, turnip, and Arabidopsis (a small flowering plant) seeds kept in the habitat, then monitored for five to 10 days and compared to controls back on Earth. NASA will also monitor the actual habitat itself, looking toward its scalability since a two-pound habitat won’t support human life. Currently, the chamber can support 10 basil seeds, 10 turnip seeds, and around 100 Arabidopsis seeds. It also holds the bit of water that initiates the germination process, and uses the natural sunlight that reaches the moon to support the plant life.
In order to study the quality of the plant growth and movement, the habitat will take images and beam them back home.
If NASA doesn’t run into any unexpected bumps, its long-term plans include attempting to grow a more diverse crop of plants, longer growth periods, and reproduction experiments. The longer the experiments, the more we’ll learn about the long-term effects of a lunar environment on Earth plants.
reply to post by Cabin
It's a great experiment. Money spent like this is much more positive than blowing it all on weapons..
I love the way that experiments are becoming more open sourced.
I can think of some interesting little seeds they could grown on the moon.