Monday, December 2, 2013

Nasa to grow plants on the moon by 2015: 'If they can thrive, we probably can too'

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A 1kg "self-contained habitat" will be transported on a commercial spaceflight; on-board sensors and cameras will send back images and data to Earth.

Nasa has announced plans to grow plants on the moon by 2015 in a project designed to further humanity’s chances of successfully colonising space.

If successful, the Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team will make history by seeding life from Earth on another celestial body for the first time, paving the way for humans to set up more permanent habitation. “If we send plants and they thrive, then we probably can,” says Nasa.

Scientists, contractors and students will work together to create a small 1kg “self-contained habitat” containing seeds and germination material to send to the moon. To get there Nasa plans to ‘hitchhike’, delivering the payload via the Moon Express lander, a commercial spacecraft enrolled in the Google Lunar X Prize.

“After landing in late 2015, water will be added to the seeds in the module and their growth will be monitored for 5-10 days and compared to Earth based controls. Seeds will include Arabidopsis, basil, and turnips,” said Nasa officials in a press release.

The difficulty for the scientists will be encouraging plant growth in the harsh environment of the moon. Partial gravity and lunar radiation will need to be accounted for, although the plants will travel with their own water reservoir and enough air for five days of growth. Cameras and sensors will monitor the plants and send data back to Earth.

For the rest of the story: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/nasa-to-grow-plants-on-the-moon-by-2015-if-they-can-thrive-we-probably-can-too-8972642.html

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