Lunaria One, on Friday launched its Australian Lunar Experiment Promoting Horticulture (ALEPH) a collaborative project with institutions including the Australian National University (ANU) to investigate whether plant life can thrive on the lunar surface.
Caitlin Byrt, an associate professor from ANU’s Research School of Biology and science adviser for Lunaria One, said the mission was a “unique” opportunity to use knowledge of plant germination resilience to identify plants that could survive on the Moon.
Plants will be chosen for the project based on how quickly they germinate and their tolerance to extreme conditions.
Lunaria One is hopeful the research will unlock new methods for sustainable food production and boost food security.
“Space is an exceptional testing ground for how to propagate plants in the most extreme of environments,” Byrt said in a statement.
“The extreme conditions that Earth is facing due to climate change present challenges for how we manage food security in the future.
“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.
Dehydrated dormant seeds and plants for the mission will be sent to the Moon in a specially-designed chamber on board the Beresheet II spacecraft being developed by SpaceIL.
Upon arrival on the Moon, they will be germinated and reactivated through watering.
Their growth and health will be monitored for 72 hours, with data made available to citizen scientists around the world.
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