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Plants 'thrive' on moon rocks

A team of researchers working with the European Space Agency (ESA) has shown that marigolds can grow in crushed rock very similar to the lunar surface without any added fertilizer. The team led by Natasha Kozyrovska and Iryna Zaetz from the National Academy of Sciences in Kiev planted marigolds in crushed anorthosite, an earth rock that is very similar to much of the lunar surface. In anorthosite alone, the plants fared badly, but amending the crushed rock with different types of bacteria made the plants thrive. The bacteria appear to draw elements from the rock that were needed by the plants, like Potassium. While unlikely that plants will be growing on the moon anytime soon, the ESA has not ruled out attempting it in a robotic mission. Growing plants in space is nothing new (for space stations), but growing anything on the moon could be another "giant leap for mankind." Or at least a big step toward sustaining life there.