Scientists say astronauts will soon be able to grow plants on asteroid soil hinting toward a future in space farming

Scientists have reported growing Romaine lettuce, chili pepper, and pink radish plants in the Cl carbonaceous asteroid regolith simulant and peat moss mix and the study has been published in Planetary Science Journal’s July edition.

Previously researchers grew plants on the lunar soil and they published the reports in Communications Biology on May. But, on lunar soil plants grew in a slower manner taking a longer time.

However, a recent study suggests that carbonaceous chondrite meteorites can contain moisture. An astroecologist from the University of North Dakota said, “carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, known to be rich in volatile sources — water especially,” also they are observed to contain nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus which are key agricultural resources. Scientists say that these kinds of Cl asteroids can provide adequate nutrients for space farming.

An astrobiologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, astroecologist Fieber-Beyer and his colleagues choose a type of radish lettuce and chili pepper and attempted to grow it on faux asteroid soil with peat moss and other mixes. Scientists claim that as the result each species reacted differently to each treatment. The asteroid-based simulant contained small amounts of plant-usable nutrients, and low cation exchange even though it has a high pH. However, the pants grown on the faux asteroid soil were more prone to drought-related stress.

Although scientists added peat moss to keep the soil loose and retain water so that it doesn’t become too much dry and initiate drought street on crops. The plants were observed to grow in such an environment although they couldn’t retain water as expected.

However, scientists aren’t disappointed by this rather they think it will open a new doorway to space farming. Fieber-Beyer and the team will try to grow vetch seeds in faux asteroid soil and dead plant mix. The astroecologist is trying to increase the ability of water retention in the soil. She also added that they will be selecting seeds next time as they weigh less than peat moss mix.