Food can be grown on the moon, paving the way for humans to colonize space.
Scientists say carrots on the moon may be healthier than earth’s fruits and vegetables.
They found that stress from growing in exotic soil increases levels of protective compounds, which are commonly found in superfoods like blueberries and kale.
Experts grew cress – a small flowering plant in the same family as cauliflower and broccoli – in 12 soil samples from Apollo 11, 12 and 17 moon landings.
This is the first time an experiment has been allowed, as the five-decade lunar scrapings are considered “precious national treasures”.
All seeds germinate after adding fertilizer, water and light.
But while garden cress is edible, it is not very tasty.
The researchers also found that seedlings grew less in the soil than in the more lunar-exposed parts. These plants were more dwarfed, their leaves much darker, but more nutritious.
Professor Robert Ferrell, from the University of Florida, said: “It’s really good news that plants can grow in lunar soil.
“Showing that plants will grow in lunar soil is actually a big step toward being able to settle in lunar colonies.”
The breakthrough, published in Communications Biology, comes when NASA plans to return to the Moon in 2025 as part of the Artemis mission.
Astrobiologist Professor Anna Lisa Ball said, “The plants that responded most strongly to what we call oxidative stress responses . . . are the ones that turn purple.
“And it’s the same in those dark red and purple fruits that are healthy for humans thanks to their antioxidant properties.”
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