The remarkable story of seeds that went to space, the moon trees

The seeds that survived the harsh conditions of space and sprouted on the earth tell us all about their incredible space adventure.

When NASA attempted the unthinkable

The advancement in technology andspace programs helped us learn more about the incredible and unknown cosmos.NASA has worked extensively on knowing more about space travel since 1940. Thanks to their incredible space programs we were able to know more about factors such as the effects of space travel on the human body, bone density loss, effects of radiations, and changes in the immune system. But now we all wanted to know about the effects of space travel on our flora i.e. plants. To study this NASA, in the year 1971, attempted to send out hundreds of seeds to space in Apollo 14 mission. These “moon trees” after their space voyage were planted all over the US, which became the testament to humans’ quest to understand the intricate working of the cosmos.

How these seeds survived in the extreme climate condition of space.

When Apollo 14 mission blasted off to space, astronaut Stuart Roosa carried these seeds in a sealed plastic bag. The idea to take seeds to space occurred to the US Forest Service Chief Ed Cliff. When Cliff contacted Roosa and presented this idea to NASA. The idea got real hype from Forest Service and was also meant to answer more fundamental questions about space and the effects of these seeds. Historically, it was not the first-time seeds were sent to space. Now Stuart Roosa carried about five sealed bags of seeds which were kept safely inside a canister. The seeds are orbited with Roosa in and around the moon. After their return back to the earth when the astronauts went through a decontamination process, but during the process the metal canister popped open and seeds fell off. Everyone feared that the seeds must have died because of the vacuum inside the decontamination room. But the resilience of these seeds shined through and many seeds have survived to become a tree.

Where are these moon trees?

The sapling germinated from the seeds were planted all across the US in places such as the White House. Some even went abroad to places such as Switzerland, Brazil, and Japan.

The moon trees would always be remembered as the first and a memorable step in the quest for survival even away from the nurturing care of our home planet.

Priyadarshini Kaul

Priyadarshini Kaul Mishra has two Master’s Degrees in English Literature and History. She is actively following her passion for the language by being a content creator since many years now. Besides this, Priyadarshini is a true bookworm at heart and tries to be an avid reader despite being a full-time mother now. She is also a professionally certified baker and puts on the oven mitts every now and then.
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