The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched a project to figure out how to pull valuable nutrients from lunar regolith so that future astronauts can use them in hydroponic gardens.

“This work is essential for future long-term lunar exploration,” said Malgorzata Holynska, ESA materials, and processes engineer. The challenge: ESA hopes to send its first astronaut to the moon’s surface by 2030 before ultimately joining NASA in establishing a long-term lunar presence.

The cost of constantly sending supplies to the moon for those astronauts will be astronomical, so both ESA and NASA are looking for ways to take advantage of lunar resources to create food, water, and oxygen for moon dwellers.

In May 2022, scientists from the University of Florida proved it was possible to grow plants in lunar soil, but the seedlings weren’t as robust as those grown in terrestrial soil, and when analyzed at the genetic level, they showed signs of stress.

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