Moondancing to Beat of the Chickpeas

By Chelsea Coley, AGE 9

Do you think it’s possible to grow plants on the moon? Scientists have planted chickpea seeds in synthetic lunar (moon) soil. Moon dust is a type of fine dust found in the moon’s soil. The idea is to reduce the need for packaged food for people living on the moon in the future. However, growing food on the moon isn’t easy, because lunar soil lacks the rich nutrients found in Earth’s soil.

Researchers at Texas A&M University tried to improve the synthetic lunar soil by adding fungi and compost, but the soil still had a problem holding water. Consequently, the chickpeas had low chlorophyll, were small and had a loss of leaf area and branching. They also took longer to grow.

On Earth, there isn’t enough lunar soil, so scientists made a substance like lunar soil called “amended moon dust.” Amended moon dust is made out of Earth’s geological materials. Why did they pick chickpeas out of all vegetables? The scientists picked chickpeas because they are small, are able to grow with stress, are high in protein and use less water to grow than other food crops.    

Having the ability to grow plants on the moon also provides sustainable benefits. Moon dust chickpeas can be a resource for those who travel in space. It also reduces the need for resupplied packaged food from Earth. Some believe that growing plants on the moon could produce oxygen for astronauts in the future. 

However, there is a lot left to do before we are able to create an abundant amount of moon dust plants and vegetables. Too bad the moon isn’t really made out of cheese, but what on Earth are we doing to our planet that would make anyone move to the moon?

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