Submitted by Tom Greenwalt on
A cool article Thursday April 17th titled Plants thrive on Moon rock diet. In short the scientists took crushed anorthosite a type of rock similar to rock on lunar surface and planted marigolds in it. The marigolds didn't do very well in the plain anorthosite. But in the anorthosite that they added bacteria to, the marigolds grew very well. Apparently the bacteria extracted minerals from the anorthosite such as phosphate that the plants were able to use.
As a proof of concept this is great news, especially in light of Peter's In Focus article in the Moon Miner's Manifesto about breaking the umbilical cord. Being able to build a habitat that is as free as possible from the need of major resupply missions from Earth is a must for long-term outposts on the Moon and Mars. Remember microbes are our friends, even Earth would be an unpleasant place to try and survive with them.
Extending this research would be a good space enthusiasts project. Grinding up various kinds of rock and figuring out what minimally needs to be added to make the 'soil' plant friendly.