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Australian plants to grow on the moon

The Australian National University (ANU) is one of the organizations working with space start-up Lunaria One to grow plants on the Moon by as early as 2025.  

Australian Lunar Experiment Promoting Horticulture (ALEPH-1) is the first in a series of experiments investigating whether plants can thrive on the lunar surface. Growing plants for food, medicine, and oxygen production is crucial to establishing a long-term human presence on the Moon.  ALEPH-1 could also help us to develop more sustainable food production here on Earth. 

Researchers will select the plant species to send to the Moon based on their speed of germination and tolerance to the large temperature variations experienced there.

Associate Professor Caitlin Byrt at the Australian National University (ANU) is a science advisor for Lunaria One. She believes the mission presents a unique opportunity for ANU scientists to apply knowledge of plant germination resilience to determine the types of plants that could tolerate harsh environments such as the Moon.   

“Space is an exceptional testing ground for how to propagate plants in the most extreme of environments. The extreme conditions that Earth is facing due to climate change present challenges for how we manage food security in the future. This project is important for developing propagation systems relevant to challenges here on Earth. This includes the creation of controlled environments that enable communities to rapidly propagate plants after natural or climate-related disasters. If you can create a system for growing plants on the Moon, then you can create a system for growing food in some of the most challenging environments on Earth,”  said Associate Professor Caitlin Byrt.

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