NASA to grow plants on Moon for Artemis III Mission in 2026

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Artemis III: NASA prepares to plant crops on the lunar surface in a historic mission. — NASA/File
Artemis III: NASA prepares to plant crops on the lunar surface in a historic mission. — NASA/File 

With the Artemis III launch planned for 2026, NASA will harness space technology to grow plants on the lunar surface, Daily Mail reported.  

It is a groundbreaking project called LEAF, which stands for Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora. It will test the possibility of growing plants in a mini lunar greenhouse to open a new chapter in space exploration history.

LEAF, developed by the Space Lab Technologies of Colorado, is among the three experiments which were chosen to be sent to the moon during the 2026 lunar journey. 

The planned plants including thale cress, duckweed, and Brassica rapa will be put in a protected growth chamber to avoid any possible dangers from space and to make real-time monitoring of their development possible.

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy brings to light the scientific importance of these tests, by emphasising the role of these tasks in the implementation of the most important problem of lunar and interplanetary exploration.

Duckweed is a miracle plant that is resistant to most challenges and carries a greater protein content than most food crops. Hence, duckweed is the desired food crop for future space colonies because it is a sustainable source of nutrition and oxygen. The Brassica rapa, a fast-growing cousin of cabbage and broccoli, has a higher chance than ever of successful space habitats away from Earth.

While this is the agency's first endeavor at growing plants on the Moon, experiments conducted on the International Space Station as well as the lunar regolith research work have provided a foundation for this cutting-edge mission.