One month in space # 29

What has happened to our heads for a month? American researchers have been able to grow plants on the lunar soil, and the James Webb Telescope has successfully completed its installation.

So you can garden on the moon

Scientists from the University of Florida have succeeded in cultivating plants as a lunar rock, regolith, as a substrate. This rock, the combination of which is close to the volcanic rocks that can be found on Earth, allows for the first time a sustainable installation on the moon and the possibility of feeding the astronauts present in our stars. Also, these discoveries suggest solutions applicable to the earth, especially to improve crop yields in poor soils.

The questionable study, published on the Communication Biology site, made it possible to evaluate the extent of this layer through 12 lunar soil samples (as a result of samples taken during various Apollo missions), each weighing 1 gram. Germination of lady cress seeds (Arbidopsis thaliana) The choice of this plant owes nothing to the opportunity: the lady’s cross grows very well, even in a hostile environment. After all, this plant is the most used by laboratories and its genome is completely hierarchical.

The researchers added water and a nutrient solution to the substrate and set up a battery of witnesses with conditions that could be found on the moon or even on Mars, without the moon being on Earth.

The results are more than promising, since all the seeds have germinated. This is a small revolution in the world of space farming, as it is the first time such an experiment has been successfully performed. After six days, however, the trees growing on the lunar soil proved to be more fragile than the controls, with some parts of the tree (leaves and roots) stagnating which contained a red tinge. So the test is not completely successful. Furthermore, analyzes of the RNA of these plants show that they have undergone significant stress, indicating that the lunar material is far from an ideal soil. No wonder.

Ultimately, the results of this experiment paved the way for new research, adapting plants to lunar and Mars soils, and succeeding in cultivating plants for maturity. This is one of the many things that space agencies have to imagine colonizing our nearest star – or living in the long run.

News from the James Webb Telescope

December 25’s takeoff headlined. The James Webb Telescope has been in orbit for 5 months now, about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Before fully operational, the telescope must align all of its scientific instruments (3 imagers and a spectrograph) with the main mirror, which is about 6.5 meters in diameter, and whose installation was completed in January 2022. None of the imagers took time to work: in fact, it must reach a temperature of -266 ° C in order to work optimally.

NASA recently announced in a press release that all light is now green: the instruments are in place (illustrated by the image at the top of the article published by NASA), exploring the boundaries of a functioning and ready galaxy, sharpness never seen before (and never near). With the ambition of getting shots.

In this regard, NASA press releases even point out that the performance of the telescope is higher than the most optimistic predictions of researchers.

Over the next two months, NASA engineers will test James Webb’s various observation modes and test thermal stability to evaluate the device’s performance at different temperatures. Then, the James Webb Telescope will be able to work, with a priority mission to capture the light signals emitted by the first galaxies formed after the Big Bang.

Image featured at the top of the article: James Webb Telescope Alignment Evaluation Image: NASA

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