Is it possible to grow plants for food on the Moon? Australian scientists want to be able to answer “yes” by 2025, according to the plan for a space mission unveiled on Friday.
What is at stake for scientists is crucial: “This project is a first step towards the cultivation of plants for food, medicine and the production of oxygen, which are all crucial for the establishment of human life on the moon,” the researchers said in a statement.
Solutions to the problems of food security on Earth?
Brett Williams, a plant biologist at Queensland University of Technology, outlined the steps the mission will need to follow. The seeds will first be transported by the Beresheet 2 spacecraft – an Israeli private space mission. After landing and once in the ground, they will then be watered in a sealed chamber and scientists will watch for any signs of germination. The types of plants will be chosen according to their ability to withstand extreme weather conditions but also according to the speed of their germination.
Apart from creating the beginnings of human life on the Moon, this mission could also serve as a laboratory to find solutions to food security problems caused by global warming, suggests Caitlin Byrt, professor at the Australian National University. “If you can create a system to grow plants on the moon, then you can create a system to grow food in some of the harshest environments on Earth,” she noted in a statement.
This project is led by the organization Lunaria One, which includes Australian and Israeli scientists.