April 2023 Newsletter

April 2023 Newsletter

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The Influence of Lunar Regolith Simulants on Pea Growth

By Exolith Lab

As humanity draws closer to its return to the lunar surface, the newest generation of scientists is working hard to prepare for what lies beyond Earth's atmosphere.

A team of two 2nd graders, Lai Junyi and Pei Shuyao, from Dee Future Academy in Ningbo, China recently won the Chinese national first prize in an official competition on lunar exploration last November. The team used Exolith Lab's Lunar Highland Simulant (LHS-1) and Lunar Mare Simulant (LMS-1) to grow peas, measured the seedlings' heights, and observed morphological differences from the control group. The seedling of the LHS-1 group was found to grow higher than the LMS-1 group and showed no differences from the soil (control) group.

The results of this study and similar work could have far-reaching implications for the understanding of future space exploration and colonization. Through Lai and Pei’s diligent work and dedication, they have set an admirable example of what young minds can achieve. Students of Dee Future Academy in collaboration with Starship Education look forward to continuing to use Exolith Lab's simulant products and do experiments on lunar and Martian exploration. 


Can Plants Grow in Martian Soil?

By Exolith Lab

With our eyes set on the lunar surface, Mars follows closely behind - and with it the importance of defining means to survive on its barren surface. As Robert Zubrin said, "Failure to terraform Mars constitutes failure to live up to our human nature."

Matthew Thomas Jr. is an 8th-grade student in Pennsylvania that began examining radish, kale, and alfalfa growth in MGS-1 as part of his independent study for AP science. He had originally hypothesized that the addition of Earth soil to MGS-1 would improve plant growth relative to the amount of nutrients added, but when his seedlings sprouted, they revealed interesting results.

For each plant, Matthew used a thoroughly mixed combination of 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% MGS-1 to terrestrial soil. The plants would receive 12 hours of sunlight and 4 ml of water each day as observations were recorded utilizing the tallest sprout in each pot. Matthew examined the specimens for a total of 21 days before concluding the study.

Through his research, he determined that radishes and kale needed very little supplemental soil to achieve similar growth to those grown in Earth dirt, whereas the alfalfa required increasing additives to produce similar results. Matthew looks forward to sharing these results at the County Science Fair in the upcoming months and discussing their implications with others. This research is another pertinent step in understanding how Martian agriculture could be sustained in the future. By expanding what we know about soil and its relationship with life on Mars, the possibilities for its utilization in the future are truly endless.