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Business News/ Science / News/  Can we grow plants on Moon? NASA's Artemis III mission plans to study possibilities; all you need to know
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Can we grow plants on Moon? NASA's Artemis III mission plans to study possibilities; all you need to know

NASA's Artemis III mission in 2026 aims to explore plant growth in the lunar environment using the Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora (LEAF) payload. The success of the mission could lead to self-sustaining habitats on the Moon and further space colonization projects.

NASA's mission Artemis III, will explore the lunar south polar region, within 6 degrees of latitude from the South Pole. (Photo by AFP)Premium
NASA's mission Artemis III, will explore the lunar south polar region, within 6 degrees of latitude from the South Pole. (Photo by AFP)

NASA's Artemis III is set to be a mission in 2026 that will carry a unique payload designed to explore the feasibility of growing plants in the lunar environment.

NASA has selected the first scientific instruments for astronauts to deploy on the Moon's surface during Artemis III, including the Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora (LEAF). LEAF will study how the lunar environment impacts space crops, examining plant photosynthesis, growth, and stress responses under space radiation and partial gravity conditions.

Also Read: NASA video shows what happens if you go inside a black hole; watch the journey into ‘nothingness’

After the Artemis III mission concludes, the cultivated plants will be meticulously brought back to Earth for comprehensive molecular-level analysis. This pioneering endeavour enhances our understanding of sustainable living in space and paves the way for future colonization projects.

Meet ‘miracle plant’ 

The plants include thale cress, duckweed, and Brassica rapa. These will be placed in a protected growth chamber to ensure the harsh conditions do not compromise their survival and growth on and beyond the lunar surface.

Duckweed stands out among the chosen group of plants as a hardy species that resist many environmental challenges. It has a higher protein content than most food crops, making it an ideal food crop for future space colonies. Brassica rapa, a fast-growing relative of cabbage and broccoli, offers a promising prospect for thriving in space habitats beyond Earth.

The mission's success could lead to the creation of self-sustaining habitats on the Moon and beyond, representing a major step forward in humanity's journey into space exploration.

Also Read: NASA update: Astronaut Sunita Williams' new space mission postponed to THIS date

Meanwhile, Artemis III will explore the lunar south polar region, within 6 degrees of latitude from the South Pole. The mission's proposed landing sites are in some of the Moon's most ancient areas.

A study published in 2022 by US researchers involved growing a flowering plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, in 12 small containers, each containing a gram of authentic Moon soil collected during NASA missions over fifty years ago.

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Published: 09 May 2024, 11:00 AM IST
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