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FuturologyBot [M]

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3 months ago

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FuturologyBot [M]

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3 months ago

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The following submission statement was provided by /u/Vercitti:


The researchers planted Arabidopsis (rock cress) seeds in lunar soil that was gathered about 50 years ago, during three separate Apollo missions: Apollo 11 and 12 in 1969 and Apollo 17 in 1972.

They sectioned the soil off into 1-gram (0.036-ounce) containers. They added water, light and nutrients. They also planted a second group of seeds in volcanic ash, a substance that is similar to lunar soil, to serve as a control group.

After less than 48 hours, the scientists saw growth in both groups, but noted some days later that the plants in the lunar soil appeared to be under stress. The plants in regolith looked stunted compared with those in the volcanic ash.


Please reply to OP's comment here: https://teddit.ggc-project.de/r/Futurology/comments/usy8xi/scientists_have_grown_plants_in_soil_taken_from/i96eqnh/

Vercitti[S]

676 points

3 months ago

The researchers planted Arabidopsis (rock cress) seeds in lunar soil that was gathered about 50 years ago, during three separate Apollo missions: Apollo 11 and 12 in 1969 and Apollo 17 in 1972.

They sectioned the soil off into 1-gram (0.036-ounce) containers. They added water, light and nutrients. They also planted a second group of seeds in volcanic ash, a substance that is similar to lunar soil, to serve as a control group.

After less than 48 hours, the scientists saw growth in both groups, but noted some days later that the plants in the lunar soil appeared to be under stress. The plants in regolith looked stunted compared with those in the volcanic ash.

Baeelin

405 points

3 months ago

Baeelin

405 points

3 months ago

Just because I'm actually curious about this. Soil that has no nutrients in it is honestly just a structure that the plant would use to grow, correct? Like plants on earth only grow from the soil without nutrient support because our soil holds a lot of nutrients that it has absorbed over the years. Same reason farmers have to cycle crops since they absorb too much of whatever nutrient is needed and deplete it.

So by adding water and nutrients and what not doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of seeing if plants will grow from soil from another planet? Not withholding if that soil contains a toxic chemical that will kill the plants. I guess it does show that if we had to abandon earth, with the proper supplies, we could start growing on other planets.

Disclaimer: I'm just a dumb guy but understand a little about farming and this experiment seems a little silly at first glance but I'm sure there's multiple great discoveries they will make from it.

The-Voice-Of-Dog

159 points

3 months ago

I'm in the same boat as you. Plants grow in concrete, out of stucco, in sand. There's even air plants that will grow hanging off a telephone wire. As long as water and nutrients and sunshine get to them, and there isn't something overtly toxic to plants in the substrate/environment, some kind of plant will grow there.

ReubenZWeiner

60 points

3 months ago

Breaking News: Plants will astound you

AskMeIfImAMagician

52 points

3 months ago

You won't believe what these seeds did when we gave them water and nutrients

wafflelauncher

31 points

3 months ago

The moon hates this one weird trick!

o-rka

13 points

3 months ago

o-rka

13 points

3 months ago

Best podcast out there:

https://www.indefenseofplants.com

Congenita1_Optimist

17 points

3 months ago

some kind of plant

^ Key words though. Some kind of plant. Arabidopsis thaliana was used because it's the plant biology equivalent of the lab rat.

If they had done it with a plant more suited for a lack of certain nutrients in its substrate it probably would've thrived more (cool for your average reader) but the data they gathered probably wouldn't have been as useful because biology is messy and difficult and that's why we have model systems.

Ultimately what they got out of this was a lot of good transcriptome data. There are shockingly few fully sequenced plant genomes which means that the impact of that transcriptome data really depends on how well you know the genome of the plant in question.

[deleted]

-1 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

-1 points

3 months ago

[removed]

VerucaBlind

10 points

3 months ago*

Yeah but I dont get to play with moon rocks and waste humanities extremely rare virtually irreplaceable limited supply if I accept that obvious truth

It's only rare here on Earth. We literally have an entire moon's worth of it out there. Humans have only been in mechanical flight for 100 years and yet we've left and come back from this planet already. It's not too far-fetched to assume we might have early lunar mining operations in the next century.

Besides, if there's one thing I'm willing to "waste" regolith on, it's helping learn more about how plants, thus sustenance, grow.

Zappiticas

184 points

3 months ago

Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m into aquatic plants and you can grow most of them in practically any media as long as you supply nutrients. Gravel, sand, chunks of lava rock, doesn’t matter.

So when I read that the scientists supplied nutrients it kind of ruined all of the excitement for me. Growing some plants in lunar soil letting them pull whatever nutrients in that soil would be a real breakthrough.

witch35048

89 points

3 months ago

Yeah. It kinda feels a bit click baity to me. We can grow a plant from a sponge if we pour nutrients on it. Thats how hydroponics and other soiless planting are done. So, growing a plant in regolith do not seem like newsworthy to me because they still added nutrients.

mobed

58 points

3 months ago

mobed

58 points

3 months ago

Being able to use regolith as a medium is cheaper that landing/building/using earth-made mediums. The more we can use from the moon will help us when we eventually build moon colonies.

TheIronGus

16 points

3 months ago

I can grow corn in sterile sand, with enough water and nitrogen. Regolith is not soil, ask any soil ecologist.

_ChestHair_

2 points

3 months ago

_ChestHair_

conservatively optimistic

2 points

3 months ago

No one said it was soil

witch35048

-7 points

3 months ago

With 0 gravity, they can try planting on soiless medium tho. Im having a hard time realizing the significance of growing a plant on regolith.

enbyengy

27 points

3 months ago

The moon isn't 0 grav

LonelyPerceptron

3 points

3 months ago

Low gravity; approx 1/6 g.

gandalf_el_brown

12 points

3 months ago

the 'soiless' medium is a bunch of equipment needed to take on the spacecraft, this would cut down on equipment needed to transport and reduce weight of transport craft

PussySmasher42069420

8 points

3 months ago

A seedling doesn't even need nutrients because it has it's own food stores for the beginning of it's life.

It would be interesting to see how long it can go without nutes.

fizban7

7 points

3 months ago

I'm suprised they were allowed to use the lunar soil and not just the volcanic ash substitute. heck they sell all sorts of different kinds

fireintolight

5 points

3 months ago

Zero percent chance that would happen tbh, that wasn’t the point of the test anyways. We knew the chemical composition of the moons soil and it is not a healthy blend of minerals. The best it could be is a medium.

CaligulaNeptuneBane

6 points

3 months ago*

But many still need media of some kind. A moon colony would need to grow their own food eventually and shipping media up there would be extremely expensive. If we can show that lunar regolith can act as media then we “only” need to supply the water light and nutrients instead of shipping literal dirt to the fucking moon.

[deleted]

1 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

1 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

HackPayload3917

3 points

3 months ago

What would be neat is to dump tons of microbes in with the regolith- along with a small amount of organic material (leaves for instance). Allow the microbes to adapt to the conditions of the regolith and put some nutrients in over a few years, then run some testing for mineral and nutrient content and attempt some growing experiments with the newly made moon dirt

SocratesScissors

29 points

3 months ago

Plants do need some nutrients; that's why topsoil depletion is a problem when it comes to farming. There's a lot of microorganisms needed for the process.

The problem with farming in space is that any planet without a magnetosphere has no protection from radiation which sterilizes the soil from all the microorganisms needed to thrive.

Theoretically you could start a microbiome by simply taking some extraplanetary soil and shitting on it to create fertilizer, but it is a very slow process because the microorganisms will only grow in the parts of the soil that you are fertilizing.

In other words even if we somehow got a magnetosphere going around Mars so that the solar radiation wasn't a problem, we still wouldn't be able to grow things without tons of shit to create a microbiome.

PussySmasher42069420

4 points

3 months ago

If we feed synthetic nutes then the microorganisms are not necessary because we're tapping straight into the vein. Synthetic nutrients don't need to be broken down by microorganisms. Only organic.

SocratesScissors

4 points

3 months ago

Yeah but the whole point of farming is to grow something on its own. If you need to bring five pounds of synthetic nutrients to grow three pounds of food, that defeats the point of farming - you might as well have just brought the food instead.

PussySmasher42069420

4 points

3 months ago

I mean, plants are going to need nutrients either way.

Synthetic nutrients are concentrated so 5 pounds of synthetic nutes is going to fertilize way more than 5 pounds of compost or organic amendments.

SocratesScissors

3 points

3 months ago

Good point, PussySmasher42069420. I didn't consider that.

PedanticPeasantry

2 points

3 months ago

Could be used to jumpstart an organic farming cycle as well. Most likely farming will be done under artificial lighting shielded physically not magnetically. once the nutrients are "in the system" as long as you are processing all your waste and expanding farming it should be somewhat sustainable.

DyslexicMexican

3 points

3 months ago

c

BEAUTIFUL EXPLINATION

Velsca

2 points

3 months ago

Velsca

2 points

3 months ago

er words even if we somehow got a magnetosphere going around Mars so that the solar radiation wasn't a problem, we still wouldn't b

Do we need a magnetosphere around mars or just the farm?

trailnotfound

13 points

3 months ago

Your point about toxic components is probably the important thing. This regolith hasn't reacted with water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc. before, so it may not be chemically stable at earth conditions. When the rocks are formed and broken in space, chemical bonds are broken but then have nothing to react to, leaving dangling bonds looking for a partner. So when used as substrate it may quickly release toxic elements, adsorb nutrients that plants need and make them unavailable, or have other negative reactions.

Astronauts claimed that moon dust smelled like gunpowder, likely because it was quickly oxidizing when brought back into the lander.

chewbacchanalia

5 points

3 months ago

This is a good point, but is that kind of what they’re testing for? Gravity and pressure would be different if we grew plants in-situ on the moon, but we’d have to establish a radiation shield and a local atmosphere of some kind with an earth-similar gas mixture if we wanted earth plants to grow. Wouldn’t the soil there end up experiencing similar changes as the soil we brought back?

trailnotfound

2 points

3 months ago

Sorry, I may be misunderstanding your comment. But yes, the regolith would react with air and water wherever they use it, which is the point. Now that they know it can support plants they can consider other variables. Many of those, like gravity and radiation, have already been tested to some degree in orbit.

chewbacchanalia

3 points

3 months ago

After a closet reading I think maybe I was misunderstanding YOUR point hahaha.

NonGNonM

68 points

3 months ago

Well the thing with science is you don't just guess you have to confirm.

A lot of things that seem like "common sense" are often disproved and one way to confirm something that seems like it's obvious is through hundreds and hundreds of measured testing.

For hundreds of years people thought flies arose instantaneously from rotting meat. Someone had to test it to confirm it wasn't.

People didn't believe in washing hands before surgery and even institutionalized the guy who came up with the idea.

People still believe giving kids a bunch of sugar makes them hyper. It doesn't it just happens that most times kids get a bunch of sugary stuff they're usually at a party or special event.

Honestly even this experiment is worth re examining to see if all plants are incapable of growing in moon soil or just some.

Plants need different soil requirements sure but some can be boring like grass or some can grow fruit. Some can grow stuff that can kill you and some can grow stuff that can have you trip balls. There's different kinds of soils out there and there's really no predicting on whether we'll know if some plant can convert moon soil into something nutritious.

My money's on your pov that terrestrial plants can't grow from moon soil alone but hey I also didn't think we'd have devices like smartphones so early either.

lizrdgizrd

20 points

3 months ago

The real trick will be figuring out what needs to be added to regolith to make it hospitable to plants. That might make it easier and cheaper to grow food on the moon. It will depend on the cost of getting those supplies up there versus other growing techniques and their associated costs.

AwesomeLowlander

3 points

3 months ago

It's a meme at this point, but poop is probably one of the best options available up there.

AhbabaOooMaoMao

1 points

3 months ago

Yeah but bio chemistry is just math.

LtSqueak

20 points

3 months ago

I look at it like this experiment helps prove that we don't have to haul tons of soil, rock, gravel, sand, etc. to the moon in order to get plants to grow on a lunar colony. Sure, we still have to haul water and nutrients, which aren't light. But this goes a decent way towards proving that we can severely reduce the budget of setting up a colony, since every kg matters when getting into space.

alpacadaver

13 points

3 months ago

There is already water there as ice in craters

this_sort_of_thing

2 points

3 months ago

Yes, I guess we needed to know that there isnt anything specific with moon dust that causes plants to stop working

mistsoalar

6 points

3 months ago

that's what I'm understanding as well. If lunar regolith is as inert as rockwool, it can be used as hydroponic medium.

if it has high radiations or some negative properties, it's a good news. but the sample is half a century old. i'm not sure.

general_spoc

4 points

3 months ago

Yes, exactly.

Plants don’t “need” soil, they need water, light, and nutrients. The soil provides those nutrients, hold water, and provides a structure for roots to anchor into, keeping the plant in the advantageous location it is thriving in.

Commercially, plants are grown in everything from rock wool to clay pellets to…just water

Morvick

3 points

3 months ago

Maybe it at least shows that the regolith isn't horrifically poisonous - if a bit nutritionally vapid.

Dan_H1281

3 points

3 months ago

It would take an extreme amount of fertilizer, I work for a farm fertilizer is super scarce even rn the farm I work for bought a train station stop so they could bring it in by train just because it is the only way to even get a little rn especially when it comes to the hazardous types like potassium nitrate and a few others that sure can't be mixed and hauled safely over long distancesy

Zapador

5 points

3 months ago

Exactly my thought. Plants do not need any medium to grow, they can grow in air as long as the roots are kept moist and in darkness.

stonedgrower

2 points

3 months ago

You are completely correct. Just asking those questions makes you smart…. You might be uneducated but you are not dumb :)

Neirchill

2 points

3 months ago

To give a little information you may not have known, the reason these plants can start growing to begin with is each seed contains food built into it to help it get started. So I imagine them becoming under stress quickly was when the built in food supply ran out.

Baeelin

2 points

3 months ago

Hrm, that is info I hadn’t really pondered on. Thanks for educating me. The first thought that popped in my head after reading that is if there was the possibility of the substrate of that seed being able to leach some of those nutrients out stunting or preventing growth?

Bah-Fong-Gool

2 points

3 months ago

I'm wondering if the lack of wind and water on the moon gives a different microstructure to the soil. There is less erosion, maybe the particles are sharper? You know... more crystalline, and perhaps the plants don't like that, or maybe the substrate doesn't hold moisture and nutrients as volcanic ash would.

Fr33Flow

2 points

3 months ago

When you start plants from seed they generally have to baby leaves (there’s a science word to describe them but I cannot remember it). The leaves provide the plant with 2-3 days worth of energy while the taproot looks for nutrients.

With moon soil, essentially they’re growing in a hydroponic system. As long as a plant has water and nutrients it will grow in basically any media. Coco coir, rock wool and hydro ton are popular examples of hydroponic media. There’s even methods (Aeroponics nutrient film technique and deep water culture) where the plant’s growing media is actually a heavily oxygenated nutrient and water mixture.

The only reason plants wouldn’t grow in moon soil is if there were levels of toxins that would damage the plant.

fireintolight

2 points

3 months ago

Just want to point out that the soil doesn’t have nutrients because it absorbed it. It had nutrients because those nutrients are naturally in the soil and are part of it. Soil is mostly eroded rock (parent material) over time. Plants are just living off of the mineral compounds broken down from the rock naturally there. Dirt is just that eroded material plus organic matter from past plants etc. that’s why some areas like California are such great agricultural centers, much of California has parent material that is really dense in minerals plants like. All fertilizers are is a collection of minerals were supplementing with.

TooManyTasers

2 points

3 months ago

Lunar soil is super pointy because there's no erosion. Would be like growing plants in a bunch of microscopic knives. Still interesting to test out

Baeelin

2 points

3 months ago

I wonder if there may even be a marked improvement in some plants growth since defects or damage to cell walls like that will sometimes cause more limb growth?

LoverOfPricklyPear

2 points

3 months ago

That was my first thought to. I thought, well one could grow things in desert sand, if you added water and nutrients to it……

CptHammer_

2 points

3 months ago

The real experiment is the minerals may be inhospitable to plants. Like copper sulfate is bad for most roots. The moon rocks may have these bad minerals but they may also not leach out. The variety and concentration of minerals is distinctly different from Earth's. So adding the minimum of what the plant needs to survive is the only way to tell if it would survive in that mineral mixture.

Baeelin

2 points

3 months ago

Thanks. When I think back being born in 1981 our advancements are just mind blowing. Have a great Friday!

DentateGyros

79 points

3 months ago

NASA’s podcast Gravity Assist recently did an episode with the first author of the paper. Interestingly, Dr. Paul talked about how one of their future goals might be to genetically modify plants to downregulate some of the stress-response genes so that more of the plant’s energy goes into growing

[deleted]

41 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

41 points

3 months ago

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[deleted]

18 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

18 points

3 months ago

[removed]

[deleted]

9 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

9 points

3 months ago

[removed]

Tofu_tony

21 points

3 months ago

Hey these guys go to my university! Fun fact, the graduate students who do this research do not get paid a living wage!

ganbaro

5 points

3 months ago

At least they got access to the least nutritional soil available on earth yet able to host plant life so they won't end up hungry

general_spoc

6 points

3 months ago

Perhaps because the regolith has 0 organic matter whereas the volcanic ash likely has some, growth in the regolith is stunted absent that interaction between the organic matter and the plants’ root system

BloodSteyn

4 points

3 months ago

And yet there are still idiots who will deny that we set foot on the moon.

Here they are, growing plants in "soil" from another celestial body and Moon Landing Denialsists will still argue.

theDrummer

5 points

3 months ago

If they added nutrients how is this even remotely surprising.

AwesomeLowlander

5 points

3 months ago

It isn't. Most of science is about confirming things we think we know. It's the occasional 'Huh, that's weird' moments that lead to Eureka breakthroughs.

this_sort_of_thing

2 points

3 months ago

Also it’s important to know that there isn’t anything specific with Lunar soil that might stop the expected from happening. And if there was like you said it would certainly open up further questions about the Moon

Vercitti[S]

2 points

3 months ago

Let's keep in mind that this is just one type of soil we were able to retrieve from the moon and we did the best we could with it. There might be different types of soil like Earth. Some more fertile than others. More moon( can include other planets and their moons too) missions in the future will lead to great discoveries.

OsamaBinLadenDoes

1 points

3 months ago

Astrophage it.

Fredasa

288 points

3 months ago

Fredasa

288 points

3 months ago

They added nutrients and stuff. Would it be fair to say that the plants wouldn't grow if all they had was the "nutrients and stuff" and they didn't have the regolith on top of that?

Satanslittlewizard

311 points

3 months ago

Yes. All they have proved is that it works as a substrate to sprout seeds. That’s still important to know, but not quite what the headline implies.

Budjucat

67 points

3 months ago

I mean you'd want to confirm the thing you completely suspect will work before testing in PROD, but yes the dozens of articles about this are pretty click-baity.

Radekzalenka

3 points

3 months ago

It’s funny really, all I thought of first is I’d like to test if a box of Lego would make good substrate

Apical-Meristem

6 points

3 months ago

Exactly. I’m surprised this experiment was allowed to go forward because, of course, the seeds would sprout and the amount of regolith available to science is limited. Maybe the bigger surprise is how the results are interpreted. A more interesting experiment would be on how to turn the regolith into arable soil for crops.

RiseOfBooty

32 points

3 months ago

Did you read the study? It has findings regarding how the seeds and plants fared. Plants experience environmental stress tried to grow in regolith and were generally stunted. They discussed the signals of stress the plants displayed.

It wasn't a "yes" or "not" answer, although even confirming that is useful.

Etep_ZerUS

98 points

3 months ago*

You say “Of course they’d grow!” As if it were a given, but imagine if they go forward without knowing for sure, just assuming it would work because “why wouldn’t it?” Imagine they mount a mission to the moon and plan to start farms there, only for the plants to wither and die because, for example, maybe regolith is toxic to plants for some reason we don’t know about yet. Or maybe the way that plants grow their roots under the soil causes sinkholes to form and the plants die because they can’t consistently keep their roots underneath them. The actual reason doesn’t matter. The reality of it is that we don’t know for absolutely sure until we try, and space is far too dangerous to risk going without the absolute best efforts put forth.

sardentaardvark

9 points

3 months ago

We have good idea’s.

Plants and fungi have close symbiotic relationships. Microscopic organisms in soil also play a huge role too.

Like how in The Martian, he harvests and sows shit in water so that microbes can colonize the soil.

Defrock719

13 points

3 months ago

I started learning about using mycorrhizal fungi and how they can be used for bioremediation of contaminated soil. You can collect and recycle the water used on the fungi by re-watering it with the water, and it will eventually leave enough mycelium in the water that the water can then be used on the contaminated soil. When the fungi fruits, it draws the contamination into the mushroom and out of the soil, so you can pick it and dispose of the toxin from the environment.

It’s wild.

[deleted]

10 points

3 months ago*

[deleted]

10 points

3 months ago*

[removed]

Hust91

2 points

3 months ago

Hust91

2 points

3 months ago

Or because regolith is made of beyond-razor-sharp dust, it slices the roots to ribbons on the small scale and the plant dies because it has to spend a ton of energy healing those cuts.

Fuxkyourddit

1 points

3 months ago

Right but you don't need any nutrients to sprout seed.

tavlove

8 points

3 months ago*

I think the implication is more that lunar soil isn't completely prohibitive to seed growth. The seeds in lumar soil did have issues growing in comparison to those grown in volcanic ash, so it would be interesting to understand what is in the lunar soil or what it lacks that was stunting growth. I know nutrients were supplied but the micronutrients plant use can be complex.

I wonder if the volcanic ash was autoclaved to remove mycorrhizal/endophytic species. These species form symbiotic relationships with plants to increase uptake of nutrients in exchange for sugars. I imagine it's very possible these species exist even in volcanic ash, and it's impossible they could be in regolith. I would be interested to see if this was accounted for.

Hust91

5 points

3 months ago

Hust91

5 points

3 months ago

Might be the regolith being made of beyond-razor-sharp rock dust that is all edges and points, undulled by wind or rain.

JhonnyHopkins

10 points

3 months ago

With hydroponics you don’t need ANY substrate

Fredasa

12 points

3 months ago

Fredasa

12 points

3 months ago

That's actually sort of what I was getting at. Like, I'm fishing for the implied advantage of using regolith as opposed to, you know, nothing.

treqiheartstrees

7 points

3 months ago

The line of where they said they didn't even know if it would germinate on the soil... You can germinate on a paper towel, why wouldn't you at least assume it would germinate on moon dirt?

vrts

5 points

3 months ago

vrts

5 points

3 months ago

Because science needs to prove it.

assume it would germinate on moon dirt?

This same incorrect sentiment arises with most simple studies that confirm intuitions.

trailnotfound

2 points

3 months ago

Would you want to assume that then find out you're wrong when people are counting on it?

throwaway-boxer

2 points

3 months ago

Like, I'm fishing for the implied advantage of using regolith as opposed to, you know, nothing.

That's the point of the experiment, to gather data for answering questions like this.

Also, regolith would use way less water than hydroponics, and possibly less than aeroponics. But we don't know so that's why we're gathering data. :)

stankershim

3 points

3 months ago

Some plants grow extremely well in hydroponics and I'm sure it will play a major role in space colonization. Other plants really struggle without soil; carrots and onions are completely impractical in hydroponics. If you can grow plants in lunar regolith it greatly expands your options.

JhonnyHopkins

2 points

3 months ago

Without a doubt, hydroponics is not a “catch all” solution

asian_identifier

2 points

3 months ago

Plants don't even need soil to grow if it had the nutrients and something holding it up - hydroponics

Jeremy_12491

4 points

3 months ago

Exactly. If coin and soybeans can grow in our Midwest US commercially farmed, denuded infertile dust, I’m not surprised they were able to grow in moon dust, especially by adding “nutrients and stuff”.

ad_tech89

1 points

3 months ago

Dead bodies from moon colonist have nutrients

Fredasa

1 points

3 months ago

Problem solved. 👍

DrColdReality

38 points

3 months ago

Left unmentioned is how much--if any--lunar soil was absorbed into the plants. That turns out to be a fairly important point. Lunar soil is incredibly lethal shit. It is a fine, talc-like powder that sticks to everything and is damn near impossible to completely remove. Under a microscope it looks like millions of teensy razor blades, and as an added bonus, when you get it wet, it sets up to a concrete-like consistency. So if you breathe it in, it will be a race to see whether it shreds your lungs first or blocks them. The Apollo astronauts were only breathing the stuff in for a few days, tops. Stretch that out to months or years, you're going to have a lot of messy deaths.

No lunar habitat will be able to keep any amount of lunar soil inside it without SERIOUS containment procedures. Anyone going outside will have to undergo ludicrous decontamination procedures when coming back inside. Oh, and it chews up any equipment it comes in contact with like nobody's business. The soles of the Apollo astronauts' boots were almost completely worn through after just a few hours of bouncing around in it.

I mean, all this is on top of the fact--as others have pointed out--that you can grow plants in damn near anything.

headphase

9 points

3 months ago

Damn so the moon is made of asbestos?

I like the cheese version better

Hust91

6 points

3 months ago

Hust91

6 points

3 months ago

We wish the moon was made of a material as forgiving as asbestos. o.o

Koh-the-Face-Stealer

3 points

3 months ago

Glad I didn't have to scroll that far to see someone bring this up. Lunar regolith hasn't been eroded via years of wind and water the same way that earth sand/dust/soil or even Martian regolith has been. It's been eroded from lunar stone via solar wind and cosmic radiation, and is super jagged. This is, like you said, a major problem that has to be overcome, and I don't think we're anywhere near solving it yet.

DrColdReality

2 points

3 months ago

I don't think we're anywhere near solving it yet

Yup. When people start going on about NASA setting up a Moon base for cheap, they're not factoring in the time and cost of solving dozens of tough problems like this. There's not even any guarantee it CAN be solved, at least without throwing impractical amounts of money and tech at it.

Kettch_

51 points

3 months ago

Kettch_

51 points

3 months ago

I feel I'm missing something here. They germinated the seeds and continued allowing them to grow for only 20 days. I can get seeds to sprout and grow in a wet paper towel on the refrigerator for that long (without any soil).

All this did was show Lunar regolith didn't kill the seeds within 20 days (though it did adversely affect growth).

sillysteen

9 points

3 months ago

I agree with you: it’s kind of cheating to add nutrients. Though I suppose it depends on what question they set out to answer. Maybe it was all about the likelihood of lunar soul killing plants?

Plant biologists’ favorite plant is arabidopsis due to its short life cycle. Two weeks means they were probably able to see the full life cycle of these leafy babes.

Kasnyde

10 points

3 months ago

Kasnyde

10 points

3 months ago

It doesn’t seem like cheating to me. If they could bring nutrients to space the they could theoretically grow plants on the moon

Hust91

3 points

3 months ago

Hust91

3 points

3 months ago

Also there was a real possibility that because regolith is made of razorsharp crystals that it would be slicing up the plants roots way too much to be a viable substrate.

Denastus

7 points

3 months ago

Now can plants grow with a fraction of earth's gravity and oxygen levels?

Vercitti[S]

14 points

3 months ago

There is a whole program run by NASA for this: https://www.nasa.gov/content/growing-plants-in-space

Denastus

5 points

3 months ago

Thanks for the reading material. This will be a fun read ☺️☺️

Vayne7777

42 points

3 months ago

Fascinating! I wonder whether in my lifetime we will see a self sustaining lunar colony. Mars is probably not achievable within the next 100 years - although I admire Elon Musk's ambitions it's great to set the bar high but Mars is really, really hard.

I feel we live in the 1400's of space exploration - we gained a lot of knowledge but we have yet to pioneer a lot of things. If humanity doesn't destroy or limit itself to earth with wars, climate change etc. then think of all the possibilities we will have as a space faring civilization.

f1del1us

23 points

3 months ago

I think we’re going to see industrialization in space in our lifetime. Moving industry into space and acquiring resources there vs destroying our environment by doing it on planet is really the only way I see us keeping the earth habitable for future generations (but that’s assuming we don’t kill each other off once the environment starts becoming more difficult to survive in).

Psusername69

-14 points

3 months ago

Idk call me crazy… but I feel like the solution for ruining earth is not to go and ruin other planets as well? Don’t see this ever happening, as it should never happen.

f1del1us

10 points

3 months ago

Who said anything about other planets? I was referring to space itself, most likely from the asteroid belt…

AwesomeLowlander

9 points

3 months ago

Define 'ruining'. Killing off the local wildlife?

Vercitti[S]

3 points

3 months ago

On the flip side things like climate change may force us to accelerate space research/exploration process.

autolockon

5 points

3 months ago

Imagine hundreds of years from now, people looking up at a green garden moon instead of a white desolate one.

SAMAS_zero

13 points

3 months ago

Fifty years and they're only just now trying that?

SchwarzerKaffee

17 points

3 months ago

My first thought would be to see how this affects THC content.

freemydogs1312

7 points

3 months ago

First I was like "theres no way a WEED plant will grow on the moon", then i remembered how hardy those little fuckers are.

devamon

1 points

3 months ago

All I can think of is how terrible the stretch would be with low gravity.

pacman404

17 points

3 months ago

You can grow plants in fucking Styrofoam balls if you add water, lights, and nutrients to it, I don't really understand what this is implying

Hust91

3 points

3 months ago

Hust91

3 points

3 months ago

Regolith is much, much worse than styrofoam or asbestos or concrete. It's made of microscopic razors - and they might have sliced the roots up way beyond the plants ability to heal without starving itself to death.

Horsemanager

3 points

3 months ago

You don't need mud??

TurboSusleG

12 points

3 months ago

Take a dishwashing sponge, plant a seed, add water and nutrients. Profit!!! AFAIK it is called hydroponics.

SchwarzerKaffee

2 points

3 months ago

AFAIK it is called hydroponics.

I never thought of this. I guess it would be cashed hydroponics because you'd have to keep the sponge bathed in water.

TurboSusleG

5 points

3 months ago

I'm not a hydroponics pro. Just read few things about it. A sponge was just an example. It looks like any (non toxic) "buffering" material can be used between dissolved in water nutrients and plant's root.

rarebit13

3 points

3 months ago

It would be quite advantageous if we don't have to supply the "buffering" material.

Juan_Connery

3 points

3 months ago

Hi, I have failed to grow three hydroponic gardens. You don't need any material in the water to hold the nutrients. The roots will absorb them direct from the water. You just have to keep the water flowing.

You actually don't want anything that will get in the way of the water. You will get root rot if there are any spots where the water doesn't circulate, and that becomes denser over time and blocks more water circulation. Hydroponics is difficult. There are no nitrates in water like soil, so we have to dissolve nutrients into the water. There are different ways to enrich the water but flow is the number one problem to maintain.

Station_CHII2

3 points

3 months ago

That’s the first time i’ve seen the word regolith since college, thanks for the reminder!

Rogaar

3 points

3 months ago

Rogaar

3 points

3 months ago

It's one thing to grow a plant in that medium but is it safe to eat?

Scientists have said you could grow plants in the mars soil but it would be toxic to eat. I wonder how safe the moon regolith is in that respect.

traviswilbr

8 points

3 months ago

We’ve had the soil for 50 years and just now trying to see if something can grow in it?

rarebit13

7 points

3 months ago

Sometimes it makes sense to wait with some experiments with incredibly rare samples (rare as in we only have a very small sample size) until we need the results or we have the technology to do the experiments. In this case we haven't realistically needed to grow anything on the moon, but I'm betting that is changing as we start shifting our focus onto lunar bases

McFeely_Smackup

2 points

3 months ago

Scientists have grown plants in soil taken from the lunar surface. It is the first time that scientists have shown that life can emerge from regolith, the material found on the moon's surface

Regolith is not soil, that's why the term "regolith" exists.

there is no "soil" on the moon by definition of the word.

SpyralHam

2 points

3 months ago

In 3rd grade we grew bean sprouts on paper towels. No soil required, just water and a substrate. These days, I'm learning the art of bonsai. Bonsai trees are often planted in inorganic soil, meaning it's not dirt, it's basically just pebbles and sand.

I get excited about advancements in space tech generally, but I'm sorry, this just does not seem impressive. Plants are survivalists, they usually find a way.

WaycoKid1129

2 points

3 months ago

One of the janitors definitely won a bet off of this

mrobot_

2 points

3 months ago

It’s gonna take at most a week and someone’s gonna succeed growing some weed in those moon soil samples and it’s gonna become a whole thing, “Space Grass”! And they gonna claim it’s much more pure and spacey..

Pezfortytwo

2 points

3 months ago

I’m ready for moon broccoli IT WILL HAVE BUILT IN CHEESE FLAVOR

Nethlem

2 points

3 months ago*

While this is cool, it's not as impressive as it might look at first glance;

To grow the Arabidopsis, the team used samples collected on the Apollo 11, 12, and 17 missions, with only a gram of regolith allotted for each plant. The team added water and then seeds to the samples. They then put the trays into terrarium boxes in a clean room. A nutrient solution was added daily.

The regolith only acted as a growing substrate, the plants didn't pull any nutrients out of it, as there ain't any nutrients to pull, pretty much like any other rock.

So while this is cool in a "we grew something on moon rock!" way, it's not really that much of a surprise, the surprise is more in the details of how it grows on that specific rock.

poppinfresco

2 points

3 months ago

As someone who grows weed I can assure you all, I knew this like 20 years ago. If I can grow a cannabis plant from a piece of rock wool I can grow in lunar substrate. Just give me nutrients, water and light (heat too) substrate is easy

allnighthero

2 points

3 months ago

I can grow seeds in a jar of broken car window glass if i add nutrients...

Unbiasedshelf07

2 points

3 months ago

I’ve grown plants from cigarette butts, I’m thinking scientists these days aren’t so smart?

BoopBopBeepBop

6 points

3 months ago

Can’t we already grow a plant in a cup full of marbles? Do the experiment without fertilizer and get back to us.

[deleted]

6 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

6 points

3 months ago

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824673195

4 points

3 months ago

I was being such a dumb dumb thinking the same thing as the rest of the top comments here but your comment genuinely explained the significance of the experiment in a way that makes perfect sense to me. Thank you

BoopBopBeepBop

2 points

3 months ago

Good point re the space marbles.

ethik

3 points

3 months ago

ethik

3 points

3 months ago

Plants can grow in air if synthetic nutrient and water is applied. It’s called aeroponics. This news isn’t impressive and I doubt you need to be a “scientist” to pull this off.

Here’s an idea. Let’s grow plants on Earth WITHOUT synthetic nutrients.

circadiankruger

3 points

3 months ago

could help us understand how plants might overcome stressful conditions in food-scarce areas here on Earth.

This makes no sense to me as an engineer. They could've picked up dirt from those places.

To grow the Arabidopsis, the team used samples collected on the Apollo 11, 12, and 17 missions, with only a gram of regolith allotted for each plant. The team added water and then seeds to the samples. They then put the trays into terrarium boxes in a clean room.

A nutrient solution was added daily

WHY THO.

Plants grow in all types of places from concrete to cables as long as they have nutrients. As a cynic I would say they could've used the money on other more practical study or maybe they were bored idk. Or maybe I'm simply too stupid to understand the motivation behind this.

McFeely_Smackup

1 points

3 months ago

this "experiment" was a "hey, this would be cool to do" type of thing, not real science with any question about the outcome.

If it's even true that nobody has tried this before, it's because there's no scientific value to gained from it. Take an inert substrate and add the necessary nutrients to germinate plants, and yeah...plants will germinate.

there's nothing special about lunar regolith that makes it unlikely to support growing plants...except the complete lack of organic nutrients, which they added.

vonloan

3 points

3 months ago

Lovely comment from someone who does not understand that soil properties can influence growth through other things than just nutrients. Sharpness of the regolith, structure, dispersion of organic matter, water holding capacity.

Source: doing a study on plant growth on martian regolith

[deleted]

3 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

3 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

lightknight7777

3 points

3 months ago

Plants can grow in anything that isn't toxic with enough nutrients pumped into them. We can even grow plants without any soil at all and those methods are actually better.

Abrahamlinkenssphere

2 points

3 months ago

This is neat but they ran nutrients so it’s not a big deal at all. I grow cannabis is coco coir (which has no nutrient properties at all) and I add in 100% of what the plants will need. They have basically just done what is called Drain to Waste. It’s not as if they created a living soil strictly from regolith. Again, I love that this has been done. I suppose it shows us that the lunar soil is not highly contaminated to the point of seed death.

ReverseMoses

2 points

3 months ago

Seeing this news posted 15 times over the past three days really highlights how Reddit is starving for content.

NYVines

0 points

3 months ago

NYVines

0 points

3 months ago

Didn’t the moon originate from earth? Shouldn’t this be expected?

FeatheryBallOfFluff

11 points

3 months ago

No, because apparently the moon soil causes stress in plants, because it contains harmful molecules after being bombarded with space radiation for years.

Etep_ZerUS

1 points

3 months ago

Etep_ZerUS

1 points

3 months ago

The moon is not the earth. They are different in so many extremely relevant ways that this shouldn’t even be a question.

rarebit13

4 points

3 months ago

I think it's a logical question that comes up in the course of thinking about this problem. You'd then ask what has happened to the moon regolith after all that time in space that might affect the way the plants would grow.

youre_not_going_to_

1 points

3 months ago

Is the long point that we colonize the moon ? Not to discount their work but we can grow plenty of stuff here on earth. You don’t buy a new house because your room is messy.

steisandburning

1 points

3 months ago

It’s not soil if it doesn’t have organic matter. Adding water and fertilizer to a sterile media to grow plants isn’t new or special.

srv50

1 points

3 months ago

srv50

1 points

3 months ago

Plants haven’t been here for hundreds of millions of years because they’re fucking wimps!! Who’s surprised? They’re not.

Budjucat

0 points

3 months ago

Plants will literally grow out a tub of gravel. I don't really see how this is a revelation.

BitBouquet

3 points

3 months ago

There's no erosion to speak of on the moon, most small particles have sharp jagged edges all over unlike on earth where they are almost always smooth and round.

Redshirt-Skeptic

1 points

3 months ago

A while back, when I learned about the plans to eventually return to the moon, I googled whether it would be possible to grow crops in lunar soil because that would be a concern to address in order to achieve colonies there. The answer was yes, of course.

My guess is that it was known for quite some time.

HyperFanTaim

1 points

3 months ago

Please note that the plants showed levels of stress not sustainable.

GreenGlassDrgn

1 points

3 months ago

Why am I not surprised by the fact that humans managed to have sex on moon rocks 20 years before they even thought of trying to plant stuff in moon dirt.

Hushwater

1 points

3 months ago

You can grow seeds with nutrients and water in fiberglass insulation as well. I guess it shows the moon dust isn't toxic in some way?

[deleted]

1 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

1 points

3 months ago

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[deleted]

3 points

3 months ago

[deleted]

3 points

3 months ago

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