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© Natalia Kozyrovska and Iryna Zaetz
National Academy of Sciences
of Ukraine in Kiev
(Used with permission)
Marigolds can grow in a type
of soil found on the Moon
if supporting bacteria is added
to free up nutrients (more).
Growing Plants in Alien Soils
Lunar soil - Scientists with the European Space Agency (ESA) has demonstrated that French marigolds (Tagetes patula L.) can grow in crushed rock (anorthosite) very much like that commonly found on the Lunar surface. No additional plant food (i.e., nutrients such as fertilizer) was added to the soil, but certain soil and symbiotic root bacteria were needed to free up essential minerals (such as potassium) in a form that the plants can use. As bring soil and plant nutrients from Earth would be very expensive, this demonstration was a significant first step for developing recycling systems for future lunar settements (more from Richard Black, BBC News, April 17, 2008; and Lytvynenko et al, 2008).
NASA -- larger and jumbo images
Crushed Anorthosite is good analog for the lighter areas of the Lunar surface visited by NASA's Apollo Missions.
In the Lunar Apennine Mountains, with Apollo 15 Astronauts David Schott and James Irwin, left bottom
shadow, and the first to be deployed, lunar rover at the summit of Mount Hadley Delta (more).
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