TREES grown from seeds that were flown around the Moon back in 1971 could be growing in the UK.
The Royal Astronomical Society and the UK Space Agency are on a quest to find up to 15 ‘Moon Trees’ that could be anywhere in Britain.
Most of the Moon Trees were planted in the USCredit: NASA
The Royal Astronomical Society website states: “There could be as many as 15 Moon Trees in the UK – trees grown from seeds flown around the Moon by NASA astronaut Stuart Roosa on the Apollo 14 mission in 1971.
“But where are they now? The Royal Astronomical Society and the UK Space Agency would love to know, in their joint quest to find these living pieces of space history.”
Around 500 seeds from tree species like Loblolly Pine and Sycamore, also known as Maple, were taken on the space mission.
According to a recent BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time program, around 15 of these trees were planted in the UK but records of them can’t be found.
It’s thought there’s up to 15 Moon Trees in the UK but no one can find a record of thisCredit: NASA
A second-generation Moon Tree is known to be in a private garden in the village of Flamstead in the Chiltern Hills near London.
Most of the Moon Tree seeds were planted in the US and some of those trees still live today but many have died since the 1970s.
A Loblolly Pine Moon Tree was planted at the White House in 1977.
The seeds were flown around the Moon 34 times to investigate how migrogravity affects plants.
Most were then planted by the US Forest Service over several years.
Similar research with seeds in space still happens today.
In 2015, 2kg of rocket seeds were taken to the International Space Station for 6 months and then grown by school children in 2016.
Astronaut Stuart Roosa took the seeds on the mission, he’s pictured here on the leftCredit: Rex Features
It was concluded that space radiation made the seeds grow slower and more sensitive to ageing.
We also know that the UK is home to seven apple trees grown from seeds that went to the ISS with astronaut Tim Peake.
The UK Space Agency collected those seeds from the apple tree that inspired Isaac Newton’s eureka moment about gravity.
Libby Jackson, Human Exploration Manager at the UK Space Agency, said: “Sending seeds to space helps us understand the effect of the unique environment on seeds’ biological makeup.
“Understanding the effects of space on ungerminated seeds will be vital for future space missions, including when we look to sustain human life beyond Earth.
“Space has a wonderful way of inspiring people. We saw that excitement when space saplings grown from the seeds from Newton’s apple tree were planted on our soil.
“I’ll be interested in discovering if any of the Moon seeds came to the UK and what has become of them.”
Only 60 Moon Trees from the 1971 Apollo mission are known to be alive today.
The Moon – our closest neighbour explained
Here’s what you need to know…
- The Moon is a natural satellite – a space-faring body that orbits a planet
- It’s Earth’s only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar System
- The Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of Earth
- Temperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees Celcius
- Experts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543
- It was eventually assigned to a “class” after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610
- The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years ago
- The strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth’s gravity
- Earth and the Moon have “synchronous rotation”, which means we always see the same side of the Moon – hence the phrase “dark side of the Moon”
- The Moon’s surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective ground
- During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and farther
- The first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union’s Lunar program
- The first manned orbital mission was Nasa’s Apollo 8 in 1968
- And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission
In other news, Nasa Perseverance Mars rover has created oxygen from thin air, paving the way for future manned missions to the planet.
Nasa has baffled space fans by releasing an image of what appears to be a rainbow on Mars.
And, the mystery surrounding what looks like giant spiders on the surface of Mars may finally have been solved.
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