Help NASA Plant the Moon!

Posted September 19, 2020 by Joshua neubert

A global science experiment and challenge for grades 6 and up!

NASA’s Artemis Program is the United States’ new initiative to return to the Moon. Artemis will explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. However, returning humans to the Moon is challenging in many ways. One of those challenges is how to feed your crew. Bringing all of the food and water with you that is needed for long-duration human missions becomes a problem, particularly as you increase the length of stay or size of the crew. Using local resources on the Moon could greatly enhance our capabilities to explore our celestial neighbor.

This begs us to ask the question, can you plant the moon? Can you grow crops in lunar regolith (a.k.a. soil to us Earth-lubbers)? What nutrients, fertilizers, or other modifications to the regolith are needed to grow nutrient rich, sustainable food sources for future astronauts?

Understanding how we can use lunar soils to grow crops is one of the next great steps in supporting our return to the Moon! Scientists at NASA and the University of Central Florida among other places have started studying this with vegetables. Through the Plant the Moon Challenge you can help NASA scientists and the academic community at large learn the best lunar crop conditions by completing your own Plant the Moon Challenge project and sharing your results with the world!

The Plant the Moon Challenge is a global science experiment, learning activity and inspirational competition to see who can grow the best crops using lunar regolith simulant. Teams of middle school, high school, university, or adult participants will define and conduct their own plant growth experiments using the lunar simulant. Teams must define their own experimental parameters such as the structure of the plant growth setup, amount of water used, and nutrients or fertilizer added to the regolith simulant to help support plant growth. After a 10-week growing period teams will submit final project reports and join the global network of researchers helping to expand our lunar exploration capabilities!

Projects will be evaluated by NASA scientists and other researchers based upon a review of the experimental setup and the results of the plant growth. Teams will submit photos (optional videos), and an experiment report. Best-in-show awards will be provided to teams with the best plant growth results and experimental design.

Send in your Expression of Interest today to get on the early access list for this program when it is released (expected for November 2020)!