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plants on moon

Once in a blue moon – Israel submits most ambitious space agriculture experience in history.

By United with Israel Staff

Israel’s next lunar landing will include a space bid of a different kind: growing plants on the moon.

The attempt to nurture a host of seeds into plants on the moon is the most ambitious space agriculture experiment in history and will pave the way to understanding how food and medicines can be produced in lunar environments, as well as providing oxygen for astronauts on moon missions.

According to the team of researchers from the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Beersheba’s Ben Gurion University, the project will also enable scientists to advance sustainable food production on Earth.

It is perhaps of no coincidence that the team, a crew of engineers, biologists and space experts, hail from a research institute located in the heart of the Negev desert, which is famous for having gone from barren to blooming.

The plant seeds will accompany Beresheet 2, the spacecraft with which Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL will attempt a double landing with two landers on both sides of the moon in 2025. The mother craft will orbit the moon for a further five years.

The first Beresheet mission crashed on the moon’s surface in April 2019.

The plants have been carefully selected to withstand the extreme temperatures they will face en route for four and a half months, and will be monitored for imaging within 72 hours of landing on the moon.

The plants will receive water and heat on an automated system.

In parallel, experiments using the same seeds and saplings will be conducted by high school students and others in Israel and overseas for the purposes of comparison, said Professor Simon Barak, who is leading the team.