University of Florida researchers conducted an interesting experiment comparing plant growth in Moon soil and Earth soil. Unfortunately, the lunar soil flunked the test. NASA provided the researchers with small soil samples from three Apollo missions. After placing one gram of the precious lunar soil in each of twelve pots, they planted thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) seeds in each pot. They also planted similar seeds in sixteen pots of volcanic Earth soil.
The researchers placed both groups of plants under LED lights and fertilized them with the same nutrients. Plants grew in all of the soil samples, but the lunar soil plants grew more slowly and were smaller and scrawnier than the plants grown in Earth soil. Some of them also had a purplish color typical of plants under stress.
Analysis of the soils showed that the lunar soil was full of metallic iron and tiny glass shards, both toxic to plants. The soil also lacked nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace elements that plants need to grow.
This experiment is of great interest to those wanting to colonize the Moon or Mars. Experiments have shown that space debris pelting their surfaces has altered all planets and moons. To farm on the Moon or other planets, astronauts would have to carry soil from Earth or genetically modify the plants to accept the alien soil. For now, lunar soil flunked the test. Of course, lunar farmers would also have to provide an atmospheric environment allowing plant growth.
The Genesis account tells us that God “planted a garden eastward in Eden” (Genesis 2:8). One part of planting a garden is to prepare the soil and Earth’s environment to support the three kinds of plant life (simple plants, gymnosperms, and angiosperms) mentioned in Genesis 1:10-12.
You might not think that dirt has to be specially designed, but lunar soil flunked the test. This experiment and our knowledge about plants and the solar system shows us that God designed the soil on our planet with the just-right properties to grow the plants we need for survival. Everywhere we look on Earth, and in space, we see that a wonder-working hand has gone before.
— John N. Clayton © 2022
Reference: Science News, July 2, 2022, page 4.