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Growing Plants on the Moon May Be Feasible

Zonk posted more than 5 years ago | from the we-carry-a-harpoon dept.

Moon 254

Smivs writes "European scientists say that growing plants on the moon should be possible. Scientists in the Netherlands believe growing plants on our sister satellite would be useful as a tool to learn how life adapts to lunar conditions. It would also aid in understanding the challenges that might be faced by manned bases. 'The new step, taken in the experiments reported at the EGU, is to remove the need for bringing nutrients and soil from Earth. A team led by Natasha Kozyrovska and Iryna Zaetz from the National Academy of Sciences in Kiev planted marigolds in crushed anorthosite, a type of rock found on Earth which is very similar to much of the lunar surface. In neat anorthosite, the plants fared very badly. But adding different types of bacteria made them thrive; the bacteria appeared to draw elements from the rock that the plants needed, such as potassium.'"

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254 comments

terraforming recapitulates phylogeny? (0)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107280)

it had to be said.

Re:terraforming recapitulates phylogeny? (5, Funny)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107504)

Scientists in the Netherlands, believe growing plants on ou...

Look, if anyone knows anything about growing plants under unfavorable conditions (soil if not legal), it would be the Dutch. Looking forward to new strains like "Even More Northern Lights", "Earthly Glow", ...

had to be said too.

Two words (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107626)

Moon Weed!

Three words (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23108306)

Space suit bong.

Cue the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107296)

Cue the 'I know what kind of plant that's going to be!!!!oneeleven!!!' -comments.

Huh? (3, Funny)

powerlinekid (442532) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107298)

sister satellite

I don't think that means what the article writer intended it to mean...

Re:Huh? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107540)

No, no, you misunderstand. The article writer is from 3753 Cruithne.

Re:Huh? (3, Funny)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107592)

Doesn't matter, I'm still stuck on the smart russian chicks who headed this research. I can only hope they are hot... mmmmm lets see... Skolka anna stoyet?

Re:Huh? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107858)

I'm not sure what you are implying. Both the Earth and the moon are satellites of the sun. The moon is also a satellite of the Earth, but that doesn't negate the fact that it's also orbiting the sun.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108288)

I don't object to "satellite," I object to "sister."

I can't find a single way of looking at things that would place Earth and Moon in a sibling relationship in any reasonable hierarchy. The Moon orbits the Earth -- no matter how you slice it it's not our "sister."

Pointing out that in some sense the Earth also orbits the Moon (around a center of gravity which is physically inside the Earth) doesn't really help, because you could use the same argument to say that the Sun is orbiting the Earth, and that would make the Sun our sister as well, which of course due to the transitive nature of siblinghood, would logically make the Moon a "sister" of the Sun, which is even more ridiculous a notion.

So uh, yeah.

Re:Huh? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107876)

TFA article doesn't use the term, just the submitter. And who knows what they meant? It's perfectly possible they don't even know the moon orbits the earth. Most people are as ignorant of astronomy as they are of geography. And they are ignorant: try asking 10 people on the street which language is spoken in Great Britain!

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107956)

Well, the earth also orbits the moon (by a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny amount)

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23108030)

try asking 10 people on the street which language is spoken in Great Britain!
Hah, that's a trick question. Of course the language is Britainese.

Re:Huh? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23108204)

try asking 10 people on the street which language is spoken in Great Britain!
Which 10? English, Welsh, Irish, Ulster Scots, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, or Cornish...

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23108144)

Next, people will be smuggling Pot from the moon, no one will have any idea.

Air? (2, Insightful)

sltd (1182933) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107324)

Don't plants need some form of air to survive? Not just rocks and bacteria? Don't see this working out.

Re:Air? (1)

1155 (538047) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107376)

They can put a bubble around it, the point is to grow plants without the need to import nutrients from the earth, which would make growing plants on the moon moot. A dome can be made that can withstand the harsh conditions, and inside of the dome is enough atmosphere to sustain life.

Re:Air? (5, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107938)

In other words, they can build a big terrarium.

Here's something to consider. If you have ever maintained an aquarium, you probably know that despite what common sense would tell you, the larger the aquarium is, the easier it is to keep going. True, things like water changes become logistically harder as the tank sizes get to the enormous ranges, but you build around that.

The tricky thing about small aquariums is that the chemistry can change rapidly in a small volume of water. You've got to watch a 5 gallon tank like a hawk for things like spikes in ammonia or shifts in pH. A 50 gallon tank is quite easy for a beginner to maintain, apart from having to lug buckets of water around. If you heater goes out, or worse if it get stuck on, you're fish are dead if you don't notice it right away. In a fifty gallon tank you've got some slack.

The logical end goal of growing plants on the Moon would be to set up a system in which the plants, given a carefully controlled start, establish an environment that achieves equilibrium without putting more resources into it. Naturally, the larger the environment is, the easier it would be to do this. Once you have established how much space you need to reach a moderately stable equilibrium, let's say it's a thousand cubic meters, you can build larger examples that actually resist moving away from their equilibrium point.

The thing about systems in equilibrium, as any chemical engineer will tell you, is that when you take something that is part of the equilibrium out, they respond by making more of it.

Which is just what you need to have an efficient, self sustaining environment on the Moon. Or the Earth, for that matter.

Re:Air? (3, Insightful)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107398)

Why? If they could get CO2 from the soil, it could work.

Re:Air? (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107478)

Vacuum of space tends to cause plants to, ya know, explosively decompress their component parts.

Re:Air? (4, Informative)

vtscott (1089271) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107596)

If it doesn't cause humans [wikipedia.org] to explode, why would it cause plants to explode? From the link...

Humans and animals exposed to vacuum will lose consciousness after a few seconds and die of hypoxia within minutes, but the symptoms are not nearly as graphic as commonly shown in pop culture.

Re:Air? (2, Informative)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107926)

Not to mention that plants also have cell walls, making them more resistant to...popping than animals are.

Re:Air? (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107406)

It wouldn't be terribly difficult to build a small greenhouse with an enclosed atmosphere, so that's not a big problem. The problem is that you can't be sending up loam and fertilizer all the time to keep the plants going. You need to be able to use the resources you've got up there, and unfortunately moon dirt isn't very conducive to plant growth.

Re:Air? (1)

powerlinekid (442532) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107418)

I believe they just need CO2 from the air but some botanist is going to tell me why I'm wrong.

Re:Air? (5, Informative)

vtscott (1089271) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107936)

Just like you, plants require oxygen from the air to metabolize their food (in their case the sugars they produce from photosynthesis). If they had no oxygen, they couldn't perform plant respiration. [wikipedia.org] Plants don't store oxygen from photosynthesis internally so they rely on being able to pull oxygen from the air when they need it. Of course, overall plants produce more oxygen through photosynthesis than they use through respiration, so if we put these moon plants in some kind of dome they'd not die from lack of oxygen.

Re:Air? (2, Informative)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107420)

I was of the understanding that plants (at least those that photosynthesize) only need water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight. Oxygen, I think, is a product of photosynthesis, not an input.

Not that there is an abundance of H2O and CO2 on the moon, though... at least... I'm not aware of there being one.

Re:Air? (2, Informative)

dvice_null (981029) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108194)

> Oxygen, I think, is a product of photosynthesis, not an input

Yes, but majority of the plants don't produce sugar/starch just for fun. They also use it to grow. And for that, they need oxygen:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respiration [wikipedia.org]

Water on Moon has not yet been proven, but it is still possible:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_ice [wikipedia.org]

I don't see the lack of CO2 as a problem. Let's just place a few humans there to produce CO2. Or if that is not acceptable, perhaps animals.

Re:Air? (2, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107444)

Don't plants need some form of air to survive? Not just rocks and bacteria? Don't see this working out.

In his trilogy beginning with Red Mars [amazon.com] , Kim Stanley Robinson points out one of the difficulties of growing anything in a terraformed environment is the poverty of the soil. Even if you've got the right kind of rock, seeding it things such as earthworms (which are apparently vital to good crop growth) is so difficult that such soil can only be manufactured at incredibly slow speeds. It's not just air, rocks and bacteria that are necessary. It's the entire ecosystem present where the plants evolved on Earth.

Re:Air? (5, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107600)

Hmmm. Planting earthworms on the Moon... Moon Worms... After countless years, they will evolve better resistance to low pressure to a point where it can survive in a vaccume, resistant to full radiation from the sun, and collect all the materials it needs O2 and Water from the ground. Flurisning in this environment it will soon learn to use some of the excess gasses it digegest as a form or propulation, grow larger and larger until it reaches huge sizes where in order for them to survive they must eat moons and planets and fly to other systems in hibernation. To feed on other solar systems... Man you guys just doomed the galixy.

Re:Air? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108270)

Flurisning in this environment it will soon learn to use some of the excess gasses it digegest as a form or propulation, grow larger and larger until it reaches huge sizes where in order for them to survive they must eat moons and planets and fly to other systems in hibernation. To feed on other solar systems... Man you guys just doomed the galixy.

No, this is just the first step towards beginning spice production [wikipedia.org]. :-P

Cheers

Re:Air? (5, Informative)

dpilot (134227) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107868)

Predating "Red Mars" (and even predating "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress") by a few years, Robert Heinlein wrote "Farmer in the Sky". In it he went into goodly detail about what it would take to turn bare rock into fertile soil, including earthworms and composting all of your biological waste. He had the Ganymede colony under a dome, though it was at reduced pressure.

A friend who had also read "Farmer..." said that he'd been to Hawaii and seen their process of recovering lava fields to soil, and felt that Heinlein was right in the same ballpark, and least with the rock-crushing side of things. Obviously in a place like Hawaii it would be harder to keep life out than to start it up.

Re:Air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107486)

Plants don't only need air. They also need the proper conditions to exist (think TEMPERATURE). "During the lunar day, the surface temperature averages 107C, and during the lunar night, it averages -153C." [wikipedia]. There's not too many plant species, if any that can tolerate these differences between "night" and "day".

Growing them at the northern pole of the moon which does receive a fairly constant amount of sunlight [wikipedia] might be a viable option. But elsewhere, not so sure...

Re:Air? (2)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107756)

I'm assuming the plants would be grown inside a pressurized building. The great breakthrough with this study is that the soil in the building would not have to be brought all the way from earth. The amount of soil would be heavy and require massive amounts of fuel to get it there. The results of this experiment suggest that we would only have to bring bacteria, air, and water.

Re:Air? (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107846)

The results of this experiment suggest that we would only have to bring bacteria, air, and water.

And tacos, of course.

Interesting (1, Redundant)

DanWS6 (1248650) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107336)

In principle, putting self-contained pieces of kit with seeds and nutrients on the Moon and giving them a supply of water and an artificial atmosphere would be little different from growing them on space stations, which has been done several times; although outside Earth's protective magnetic field they would be subject to higher levels of radiation.
I wonder how they plan to protect against the higher levels of radiation.

Very careful--only one chance (4, Insightful)

crow (16139) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107354)

We may only get one chance to do this right. If we introduce a bacteria that can survive without artificial shelter (doubtful, but possible), it's there forever. Many of the problems we've had here with invasive species has been due to things introduced intentionally that ended up doing things that weren't anticipated.

Granted, the moon is a harsh enough environment that anything we do will probably only be in a pressurized man-made structure, but that might not be the case if we try it on Mars.

Re:Very careful--only one chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107554)

Right, because without any predators, Terran bacteria could easily overwhelm the Moon's indigenous...er...rock species?

Re:Very careful--only one chance (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107836)

Right, because without any predators, Terran bacteria could easily overwhelm the Moon's indigenous...er...rock species?
Now that's a scary scenario: bacteria break down all the rocks on the Moon, and all that's left is a cloud of dust orbiting the Earth.

Re:Very careful--only one chance (2, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107932)

Yup, they have no enemies except the environment. Whatever they do to extract nutrients would eventually be done to the entire moon if they got out. If we find a need for the material in its current form, we'll be too late. If we find that the conversion process has side effects that we didn't anticipate (like, say, breaking apart all the rocks into dust), we would be hosed.

Re:Very careful--only one chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23108160)

I think you've been watching one too many sci-fi horror movies.

Re:Very careful--only one chance (1)

phpmysqldev (1224624) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107720)

bacteria has definitely proven itself here on earth, living in the most extreme conditions across a wide spectrum of environments that vary in temperature, pressure, and exposure to light and food sources.See Life in Extreme Environments [astrobiology.com]

Its not beyond reason to think they couldn't live in an environment like the moon. Perhaps we could use some creative genetics to make *helpful* bacteria that can live in this environment.

Re:Very careful--only one chance (2, Interesting)

tygt (792974) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108218)

We're concerned about "invasive species" here on Earth because they displace native species, or otherwise make things difficult for humans (kudzu for instance).

If there are no native species on the moon, introducing a species which later becomes invasive may not be a bad thing at all, as you would at least have a proliferating source of organic materiel helping your efforts. However, given the extreme sparsity of the lunar atmosphere (such that you can't really call it one), I doubt you'd have much invasion of species occur.

Mars, on the other hand, may well have native species, though definitely limited compared to what we're used to, and the presence of a (slight) carbon atmosphere and some water vapor, in addition to other somewhat favorable growing conditions (eg temperatures stay somewhere near Earth-normal) means that the likelihood of an Earth species adapting to that environment and invading is much higher, and the potential for such an invasion to push aside native species shoudl give us at least some pause.

Re:Very careful--only one chance (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108220)

We may only get one chance to do this right. If we introduce a bacteria that can survive without artificial shelter (doubtful, but possible), it's there forever. Many of the problems we've had here with invasive species has been due to things introduced intentionally that ended up doing things that weren't anticipated.
Holy shit, you're right! Just think of the impact an escaped bacterium could have on the lunar ecology.

Re:Very careful--only one chance (2, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108222)

Actually, the problems of invasive species are due to the fact that we were relying on existing ecology, or felt that the prior ecology was better than the new ecology that forms after the introduction of the new species. I have never heard of a single instance where an 'invasive species' has made an environment toxic to the point that humans cannot live there. One of the joys of the moon is that we don't have to worry about wiping out native flora and fauna. If we introduce a species that takes over, we can introduce another one that feeds on the first without having to worry about it also destroying the natural flora and fauna. Even better yet, we can introduce a species that eats all of the current species, and dies without food, as leaving the moon a barren wasteland is simply not the problem that leaving, say, Australia, a barren wasteland might be.

Re:Very careful--only one chance (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108336)

Many of the problems we've had here with invasive species has been due to things introduced intentionally that ended up doing things that weren't anticipated.
No, don't worry, we've got it all planned out this time. If the bacteria goes out of control, we have a bacteria-killing species of mushroom that can eradicate it. Once the mushrooms run amok, we'll just send over a batch of mushroom-eating beetles. We can introduce lizards to kill the beetles, semidomestic cats to kill the lizards, and brown bears to eat the cats. What about the bears, you ask? That's the beauty of it. Come the end of the winter cycle, the bears will just freeze.

No decayed organic matter = no soil (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107362)

Why wouldn't they try a plant that grows in extremely low nutrient soil? There are plenty of plants that grow in sand along beaches and generate their own food through photosynthesis (all plants do, but some rely on it more than others).

Garden flowers are probably the worst type of plant to try to grow in nutrient-free dirt.

Re:No decayed organic matter = no soil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107460)

A gene-modified lichen, or fungus might be a good starting point...

Re:No decayed organic matter = no soil (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107536)

That's how it all started down here. Well, it started quite a bit before that, but there isn't any reason we can't give the moon a headstart.

and of course... (1)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107370)

Step 1: Grow plant on moon
Step 2:?
Step 3: Profit.

But seriously, I wish that NASA would just start spending money on actually trying stuff. Just go to the freakin moon and see what works. Stop messing around on jerk face LEO.

Re:and of course... (5, Funny)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107450)

But that would involve *going* to the moon which anyone with a brain knows is impossible.

Re:and of course... (5, Funny)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107496)

So you are one of those nutcases that don't believe that we actually landed on moon? Only people with severe psychological disorders believe that crap.

Wait.. why do you have my nick?

Sunlight is the Biggie (5, Interesting)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107380)

Sunlight is the biggest problem. Most places on the Moon go through two weeks of darkness, and providing sunlight-equivalent illumination would be energy prohibitive. Soviet scientists have experimented with keeping plants on low artificial light at low temperatures for two weeks, alternating that with two weeks of light. Apparently, peas can grow like this.

Give peas a chance... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107622)

...that's all I'm saying...

wishful thinking (-1, Flamebait)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107428)

Let's see, Plants need:

1. dirt filled with vital nutrients (potassium, nitrogen, and others...)
2. an atmosphere at a sufficient pressure that can maintain water, and contains CO2 and nitrogen.
3. soil that isn't too acidic.
4. soil that isn't too alkaline.
5. bacteria in the soil that can fix nitrogen and other important nutrients.
6. water that isn't too acidic or alkaline.
7. not be subjected to withering UV and cosmic radiation.
8. a consistent temperature gradient somewhere above freezing and well below boiling.

How many of these conditions are met on the moon?

None.

Growing plants on the moon is wishful thinking. Period.

RS

Re:wishful thinking (1)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107484)

Yes, but how many of these conditions are met by the stuff in our landfills?

I think you can see where I'm going with this.

Yes, I see where you're going (1)

gc8005 (733938) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107522)

By transporting all of our trash and landfills to the moon we'll have a source to grow plants. That's brilliant!

Re:wishful thinking (5, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107576)

You do know that people have been growing plants in mineral solutions [wikipedia.org] for years don't you?

You will only need a source of Co2 which could be delivered from the earth and use a sealed glasshouse (greenhouse) to conserve the ecosystem.

After you have got "enough" oxygen from the plants you can then send some lambs and rabbits to produce more Co2 for the plants.

Re:wishful thinking (4, Informative)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107588)

Actually, you're wrong on every account.

1: The dirt "does" have enough nutrients for some variety of plants.
2: Present under a pressure dome, that the plants would have to have anyway.
3 and 4: Are satisfied by having non-acidic, non alkaline, neutral soil PH, which exists on the moon.
5: Topic of the article.
6: Water "is" speculated to be buried in pockets on the moon.
7 and 8: Both present under a pressure dome.

Growing plants on the moon, just as hard as putting up a pressure dome that people living there would need to be under anyway.

*insert annoying self-signing at the end of a post that already has my name on it at the top anyway*

Re:wishful thinking (0, Troll)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108066)

Pressure dome eh? Riiiight. Oil's at $114 a barrel, and we're burning up terran soil to make fuel to get pissed away in SUVs, and you want to build a pressure dome on the moon. Let me know how that works out for ya, mmKay?

sorry dude - but that is some Seriously Wishful Thinking.

RS

Re:wishful thinking (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107604)

What about you just RTFA for once instead of dismissing the entire thing right away? It's not even the article that you're dismissing, it's the title, because that's all you needed to read to come up with that comment.

Re:wishful thinking (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107744)

1: Not necessarily.
2: Pressure? Why? Water? See cacti. CO2, yes, I don't know why nitrogen is necessary though.
3 and 4: There are plants that abide in very high or low acidity soils.
5: The summary discusses bacteria that could abide on the moon.
6: See 3/4.
7: Some plants survive.
8: No. Doesn't need to be above freezing necessarily, or *nothing* would be alive in the winter.

Re:wishful thinking (1)

Canosoup (1153521) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107764)

Most of these could be fixed if we used green houses, but my only concern would be #7 like you said.

Re:wishful thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107808)

Nobody is talking about growing plants on the moon outdoors. The biggest obstacle to growing plants on the moon is going to be getting humans to go back to the moon, in the first place...

Re:wishful thinking (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107888)

The first is answered by the article and 2-6 were largely answered by Biosphere 2, so those don't seem to apply. The problem is not one-off transports, but repeat trasports. That just leaves cosmic radiation and constant temperature. These are not trivial problems. Cosmic radiation might not be too bad - the seeds that the Apollo astronauts took to the moon and brought back remained viable, and many living organisms have survived shuttle and space station missions for prolonged periods of time. You'd want something fairly hardy against radiation, due to the time factors involved, but it's possible that fairly minimal shielding would be sufficient. The temperature more complex, as a prohibition on repeat transports eliminates the carrying of fuel for generators to power temperature regulation systems. You'd want some way of capturing the heat from the "daytime" and then releasing it on an as-needed basis over a sufficient area that temperatures remain within acceptable limits. Since water is needed in the system anyway, using solar water heating (with solar-powered pumps) would seem to be an easy way to carry heat around. Spray the water into the air of the dome as a fine mist and you've a heat release mechanism (and artificial rainfall).

Would this be enough to grow plants on the moon? The only way to find out would be to do the experiment, but as Biosphee 2 demonstrated, miscalculations are expensive and easy to make. (Biosphere 2 would have needed to be two to three times the size it was to have functioned as intended, due to uninvited insects getting in.) On Earth, the miscalculation was so expensive that nobody has tried repeating the experiment with recalculated dimensions. For the moon, where the cost of transport and construction would be tens of thousands that on Earth due to the high fuel costs and short mission times, you not only get just one shot at it, but you also have to make sure that one shot produces enormous value for money. Unless you know of a tree that produces pure platinum fruit, I don't see that being possible - at least, for now. Future launch systems might become cheap enough to make this possible, but I don't think we're remotely close to the point we could even test the theory, let alone make it worth the testing.

Re:wishful thinking (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108180)

I'm pretty sure that items 3 and 4 are mutually exclusive; therefore, at least one of them could be met. Also, the moon soil does contain nutrients. So there are at least two.

Marigolds (3, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107490)

Of COURSE they used marigolds.

Now they need to study the effect of gamma rays on these plants.

The next Cheech and Chong movie... (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107494)

Cheech: "Sounds like the perfect place to grow some reefer, man."

Chong: "Like wow man, the pigs would never think to look on the moon, man."

Little shop of horrors ! (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107524)



Any one else get this image in there head when they read the header ? Plant can't survive on lunar soil so it bonds with some symbiotic mars bacteria and starts eating human flesh ?? no ??

Re:Little shop of horrors ! (3, Funny)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107670)

I'm too much of a nerd, immediately thinking that "Hey, human flesh doesn't actually have enough nutrients in it that plants need in their current form. They'd have to kill us, then plant themselves in us and get the nutrients from us as we decompose"

I can see it now... Kudzu! (4, Funny)

zenaida_valdez (599247) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107566)

It'll grow anywhere. It don't need no stinkin' air. The Moon will be completely covered in 3 to 5 years.

Similar but Different: Grow them in Space? (4, Informative)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107674)

I always like to point to this article: Terraforming: Human Destiny or Hubris [space.com]

It argues Konstantin Tsiolkovsky [wikipedia.org]'s vision: that we should learn how to grow plants in Space first, and stay the hell away from all gravity sinks (such as moons, such as planets,) for a very long time.

That said, if we can grow plants on the moon, that's great!

(older article) [physorg.com]

Repeat these experiments at home (2, Interesting)

the_kanzure (1100087) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107696)

I drew up some plans to make what I call a "moontank" [heybryan.org]. At the moment, the design is for cyanobacteria, however adding plants would be an interesting modification. The idea is to use a vacuum chamber here on earth and to make up something that looks like the same environment as found on the moon. Sprinkle in some bacteria, do some directed selection experiments, and see what we can get out of it.

He he ... (5, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107782)

Scientists in the Netherlands, believe growing plants on our sister satellite would be useful as a tool to learn how life adapts to lunar conditions.

*laugh* Oh, those wacky Dutch. Trying to start a grow-op on the moon.

I for one welcome our new lunar based, wooden shod, pot growing overlords, and anticipate the weed that is truly out of this world.

I think that's a good sign for lunar exploration -- brothels and legalized drugs will make space attractive for much more of the population. :-P

Cheers

Plants on the moon/Mars/elsewhere (1)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107878)

So after reading the article like a good slashdotter, I got to thinking. This is all possible of course. Some people say soil could be too acidic... Ever grow a pine tree? Growing up we planted a bunch around the house... they required acid to be put into the soil all the time. Anyway I digress. I am wondering... For the Moon/Mars/Upstate NY, What kinds of plants are the best at surviving almost ANYTHING? Well, marigolds, all the types of grass, etc. Why not remotely set up a dome say.... 100 meters in diameter, and however high... Release the bacteria, oxygen, nitrigen, etc... and just let an ecosystem form for awhile. Then attempt other plants as the grass dies and creates REAL soil, and then figure out a way of expanding upon the dome. ::shrugs:: Just my own idea... Could always do the wrath of "KHAAAAANNNNNNNNN!!!" thing and make the genesys torpedo :) I am just wondering why people think this can't work? I bet it could work on mars too... if only it was 50 degrees warmer... Oh well.

Re:Plants on the moon/Mars/elsewhere (1)

querist (97166) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107930)

"So after reading the article like a good slashdotter,..."

You must be new here. :-)

(I've wanted a good reason to use that line. Thanks!)

Re:Plants on the moon/Mars/elsewhere (1)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 5 years ago | (#23107948)

Nah been around for a long time. I like to TRY to start discussion. However, I do not know if I have succeeded at my mission. What kind of plan would you have to putting plants on the moon or mars? Upstate NY is helpless unfortunately :(

Reminds me of a movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23107928)

Was it a man-in-the-moon marigold? And what were the effect of gamma rays?

Similar link in high alpine environments? (1)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 5 years ago | (#23108320)

I wish I could remember the program I saw this on, but the link between microbes and plant growth has been seen here on Earth as well. I high alpine environments, some scientists had noted that the conditions would seem to indicate there should be more plant life. When they investigated, they found that there were large increases in soil born microbes at the freeze line and the tree line. The soil at higher elevations (through exposure or UV radiation) was less favorable to microbes, and they has a theory that this related directly to the growth of plants.
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