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Australia Backs Effort to Grow Plants on Moon by 2025

Written by on October 8, 2022

Australian academics say a project to grow plants on the moon could help feed communities on Earth that suffer from climate-driven weather disasters. The researchers are supporting an ambitious multinational mission that aims to grow plants on the lunar surface within three years.

The project is led by an Australian space start-up called Lunaria One.

It will be the first in a series of experiments to investigate whether plants can not only tolerate the harsh lunar surface but thrive.

Academics from several Australian universities, along with colleagues in Israel, South Africa and the United States, have said it is an early step toward growing plants for food, medicine and oxygen production, which are crucial to establishing human habitation on the moon.

There could also be benefits back on Earth. Researchers hope the moon mission will help reveal new ways to improve food production in harsh climates on Earth or after natural disasters, when food supplies are often scarce.

Australian National University Associate Professor Caitlin Byrt, a science advisor for Lunaria One, told VOA that research in space can help solve problems on Earth.

“A spin-off from being able to solve this engineering feat is that if you can create a unit that can grow plants in the sort of extremes of space then that also helps inform us to what we could create here on Earth to be able to address things like food security challenges,” she said. So, you could imagine that after you have like a natural disaster and [the] population’s trying to recover being able to have systems where you can rapidly propagate plants in protected environments would be a great asset.”

One of the plants being considered for the mission is an Australian native called ‘resurrection grass’ that can endure harsh conditions and survive in a dormant state for months without any water.

It would be sent to the moon in a hermetically sealed chamber onboard the Beresheet 2 spacecraft, a private Israeli moon mission.

The plants would be grown in a small, protected box and monitored.

Australian academics have said they hope to begin their lunar experiment by 2025.

By Phil Mercer


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