Galactic Green Thumb: Planting in Simulated Lunar Regolith

Galactic Green Thumb: Planting in Simulated Lunar Regolith

Galactic Green: Planting in Simulated Lunar Regolith
By Mikayla Crawford

Forging a Lunar Future

With the surge of space exploration and research, extraterrestrial environments’ capacity for plant growth is a persistent subject of study. Various research points to the necessity and benefits of growing plants in space due to the many impacts on astronauts, as well as the future implications for sustainable food resources. In addition to providing astronauts with a piece of home away from home, it also ensures they get the proper nutrients they need to stay healthy.


If we can grow in lunar regolith, there will be less reliance on Earth’s resources to supply a lunar mission. This is also preferable to resupply missions, which are expensive and often lower a mission’s feasibility. Without the ability to grow in regolith, astronauts rely on machinery to grow plants in outer space. Plants grown in soil on the Moon would offer an In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) food source that would be less impacted by technical difficulties, any light and water system malfunction will be less detrimental to the products.


Research Specialist, Steven Elsaid, tells us how Florida Space Institute’s researchers at Exolith Lab are taking a look at plant growth in simulated lunar regolith:

Success here would create the potential for more sustainable and economical farming in outer space.

We first encountered issues due to the small size of regolith particles. This led to soil compaction and a low percentage of seed germination. Combined with an overabundance of metal phytotoxins, the plants were both difficult to keep alive, as well as potentially dangerous to consume. Plant scientists at Exolith Lab have figured out a way to mitigate these complications through bioremediation. This process has yielded results such as a significant increase in biomass and germination.

As this research progresses and the ability for growth in outer space improves, so will the quality of life for astronauts, opening doors for further exploration. We cannot wait to see what the future of extraterrestrial planting holds!