NASA plans moon turnips by 2015

NASA has already grown plants aboard the International Space Station. Here is lettuce growing aboard the ISS before being harvested and frozen for return to Earth.

(Credit: NASA)

NASA wants to grow plants on the moon.

More specifically, it’s planning to plant a vegetable garden there to demonstrate that a moon garden is a feasible way of supplementing astronauts’ meals. The space agency has announced that by 2015, it will be sending up various plants — including turnips, Arabidopsis (a type of cress), and basil — in what it is calling “the first life sciences experiment on another world.”

(Credit: NASA)

The agency’s not just planning to dig some holes, bury the seeds, and hope for the best, though. The plants will be grown in a special lunar module specifically designed to promote plant growth in an off-world environment. This habitat will weigh about 1 kilogram and will get to the moon by hitchhiking a ride on the Moon Express Lander, which is participating in the Google Lunar X-Prize competition.

Inside the sealed Lunar Plant Growth Chamber, the plants will be protected from the higher solar radiation, an… [Read more]

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