Help Astronauts Thrive on the Moon

Posted January 13, 2021 by Jessica Fahrenholtz

Many people dream about what it would be like to live in space, but NASA is already hard at work figuring out the logistics of how to do just that. Even with modern technology sustaining life in space long term will be impossible unless we learn how to create a reliable and consistent food source.


By getting back to the roots of survival as humans, NASA has already begun working on growing plants in space through their veggie experiment. This experiment sounds simple but growing a plant in space is nothing like it is here on earth.


To master the art of growing food in space, NASA has devoted a ton of time and energy to learning exactly how to grow food on the unique surface of the moon. Cracking the code and figuring out precisely what it takes to grow food in space will allow us to take long-duration lunar missions and get us one step closer to living in space.


In fact, NASA’s Artemis Program has set a goal of sending humans to the moon as soon as 2024. That is just three short years away!


With humans soon destined for space, NASA is focusing their attention on learning how to use the resources abundantly found on the moon to grow enough food to sustain astronauts while they are away from earth.


If they can figure it out, it will make long-duration lunar missions more reasonable and open up a world of possibilities for our future in space. This mission is crucial, and NASA knows that sometimes the best innovations come from our students’ bright young minds. That is why they are allowing students to be a part of this experiment and help NASA learn the best way to grow vegetables on the moon through the Plant the Moon Challenge.

Learn more about the Plant the Moon Challenge and how to engage your students!

This global science experiment gives students the opportunity to learn and gain inspiration helping NASA solve a real problem. Students who sign up for the Plant the Moon Challenge will receive a Plant the Moon Activity Kit, which includes lunar regolith simulant, a project guide, and a pH meter. With these tools, ‘ students will compete to see who can grow the best crops using the resources found on the moon.


This experiment encourages students to think outside the box by setting their own experiment parameters, including the structure of the setup, how much water they decide to give their plants, and if they want to use any nutrients or fertilizer along with their lunar simulant. This freedom allows students to really make this experiment their own and means they have a genuine chance to discover the winning formula for growing crops on the moon.


Participants can compete alone or in teams of up to 10 people. There are also two divisions to help level the playing field. One is for middle school students in grades 6-8, while the other is the high school division for students in grades 9-12.


There is still time to participate in this year’s Plant the Moon Challenge. Registration is open until Jan 15th, and NASA has extended discounted registration for competitive science members with a premium account.


If you are interested in this competition and any others in the new year, head to our competitions page to see what academic competitions are coming up. Set up your account to follow competitions that excite you and stay up-to-date on all the news with academic competitions.


Upgrade to a premium account to receive 10% off of the Plant the moon challenge. With a premium account, you can also track your progress in competitions, get insider information on academic competitions, access the ICS competitions concierge, and gain exclusive discounts on ICS-managed programs.