Israel’s next moon mission will include some unlikely passengers: plants.
A tray of seeds and dehydrated plants, as well as necessary equipment and cameras to monitor them, will be on board the Beresheet 2 missions scheduled for 2025.
Growing plants on the moon means overcoming the challenges of massive temperature swings on the way there, a water supply for the plants, and high temperatures when growing the plants.
The plants will have to germinate and grow to an appropriate size for imaging within 72 hours.
Lunaria One, a team of scientists whose goal is to put plants on the moon, proposed the Aleph experiment as a payload on board the Beresheet 2 lander.
Parallel science experiments will be carried out by high school students and professionals to compare growth to that on the moon.
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Lunaria One aims to find out which plants could grow on barren surfaces like the moon, and whether enough plants could grow to support future peopled moon installation.
“The motivation for this mission comes from humanity’s passion to explore and see life thrive in barren landscapes,” said Prof Barak of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
“We see the Aleph payload as an important step towards our eventual goal of providing plants for food, medicine, oxygen production, CO2-scrubbing and general wellbeing for future astronauts inhabiting the moon and beyond.”
Lauren Fell, Lunaria One Director, said: “The central value guiding this project is that space exploration is for everyone. We don’t want a future where only autonomous and remote-controlled machines inhabit realms beyond earth, but where humans can live and thrive.
“The key to this is to get humans involved and to give them a say in how we get there. The Aleph project aims to open up the science and engineering behind growing life on the moon so that anyone can be involved.”