How Is The Tree That Grew From A Seed From Space Now?
How Is The Tree That Grew From A Seed From Space Now?
Table of Content

In 1971, during the Apollo 14 mission to space, many seeds were carried with the spacecraft.

For decades, there have always been "space entities" living peacefully on Earth. However, it is not an alien. What we're talking about are the "Moon Trees", with their seeds taken from space.

After a hot first time, the "Moon tree" fell into oblivion for about 40 years. Many people are not even aware of their existence.

Seeds from the Moon

In 1971, Stuart Roosa, a former employee of the US Forest Service, joined NASA astronauts, including Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell, on the Apollo 14 mission to the Moon.

In this mission, Roosa brought 500 seeds, including 5 different types of trees, mainly spruce, pine, fig, and redwood.

Although the seeds did not originate on the Moon, or they never even left the spacecraft, but scientists still call these rare treasures.

They got the name "Moon tree" after being brought back to Earth for planting. The purpose of this action is to test whether or not there are differences in characteristics between species of the same species on Earth.

Surviving miracles

Photo: howstuffworks
Photo: howstuffworks

Almost immediately upon returning to Earth, the mission faced failure because the seed bag was exposed to a vacuum, which broke apart during the decontamination process. They were mixed together, and no one knew whether the "Moon seeds" could survive.

Geneticist Stan Krugman, who was in charge of the project, separated them by hand and sent them to Forest Service laboratories for incubation. Fortunately, many seeds have successfully germinated and grown into seedlings.

Up to now, nearly 50 years after the Apollo 14 mission, scientists still have not discovered many clear differences between plants compared to the same species on Earth.

They are all marked with a plaque, called a "moon tree", and are scattered throughout the United States.

Where Are Moon Trees Today?

The saplings were planted at schools, government properties, parks, and historic sites around the country—many in conjunction with the 1976 bicentennial celebrations. Some were planted next to their control counterparts, which had remained behind on Earth. NASA reported that scientists found no discernable differences between the earthly and “lunar” trees.1

Some moon trees found homes in sites of special historical significance. Loblolly pine was planted at the White House while others went to Washington Square in Philadelphia, Valley Forge, the International Forest of Friendship, the Alabama birthplace of Helen Keller, and various NASA centers. A few trees even traveled to Brazil and Switzerland, and one was presented to the Emperor of Japan.

Many of the original moon trees have now died, though at about the same rate as the control trees. Some died of disease, others of infestations. A moon tree in New Orleans perished after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Fifty years later, the surviving trees have reached an impressive size.

The moon trees might have been largely lost to history if it weren’t for Indiana teacher Joan Goble. In 1995, Goble and her third-grade class came across a tree at a local Girl Scouts camp with a modest plaque that said “moon tree.” After some poking around on the then-rudimentary internet, she found a NASA web page with the email address of an agency archivist, Dave Williams, and contacted him.

Today, the second generation of moon trees, sometimes referred to as “half-moon trees,” have been grown using cuttings or seeds from the originals. One of these, a sycamore, is planted at Arlington National Cemetery in tribute to Roosa, who died in 1994.

Fall into oblivion…

Photo: atlasobscura
Photo: atlasobscura

After the initial attention, the 'Moon tree' was gradually forgotten, partly because they grew up to look like other trees of the same type.

In the 1990s, scientist Dave Williams of NASA received an email from Joan Goble - an elementary school teacher in Indiana - telling her that when she was on a picnic with students, she came across a tree with the words 'tree' written on it. Moon'. Goble didn't understand and wanted an explanation.

Williams admitted at the time that he did not know about the 'Moon tree' that had been planted in that area. Even when he asked many colleagues, he still did not get an answer.

Feeling sorry for the fate of the unnamed 'Moon trees', Williams set out on his own to find more "lost" trees and count their actual numbers across the United States.

"I think this is an interesting story and would love to share with people about the achievements of space before," Williams said.

He said that he has now located 80 trees after nearly 30 years of searching, including 19 trees in parks or botanical gardens, 12 trees in schools, 11 trees in public buildings. rights, 5 trees in museums, the rest are scattered in other areas…

However, this number is still very small compared to the total of about 500 seeds sent into space nearly half a century ago.

At present, there has not been an extensive study of these 'Moon trees' on a large scale and over a long enough time to know if the trees will suffer any effects from the trip around the Moon on board. Apollo 14 or not.

Why storing seeds for growth in space

Since plants have the potential to play several important roles in long-term life support systems on other planets, it is crucial to know how seeds should be stored and transported across space before being germinated and grown in such systems.

On Earth, seeds of many species can be stored for decades under standard seed bank conditions (drying to around 5% moisture content and storage at sub-zero temperatures). But, over time, all seeds lose quality and will eventually die.

In space, seeds could be stored under similar conditions inside a space station or spacecraft, but this may not be necessary for all species. For example, some seeds are known to benefit from ultra-drying and anoxia, both of which are extreme conditions associated with the vacuum of outer space. Seeds that benefit from, or are tolerant of extreme space conditions (for example ultraviolet and ionising radiation, as well as temperature fluctuations) could be transported on the outside of a spacecraft in order to save space for more sensitive materials on the inside.

What Are Spaceships That Have Carried People Into Orbit? What Are Spaceships That Have Carried People Into Orbit?

Since 1961, there have been some different spaceships that have carried humans into Earth orbit and beyond. Here's a look back at the history of ...

What Is The Most Expensive Man-Made Object In The World? What Is The Most Expensive Man-Made Object In The World?

The most expensive man-made object is the International Space Station (ISS). What is it and how was it built?

What is the Oldest Spacecraft of NASA - Voyager 1 What is the Oldest Spacecraft of NASA - Voyager 1

First launched in 1977, the Voyager duo is NASA's longest-running mission.