It’s not quite Matt Damon starting a potato field on Mars, but recent experiments could help make moon farms a real possibility.
The problem: One of the biggest hurdles to permanent settlement on the moon is food. And since constantly flying rations or soil up from Earth would be incredibly burdensome, scientists need to figure out how to grow crops in the moon’s existing (and very inhospitable) dirt.
The solution: Researchers in China took soil that simulated what would be found on the moon and introduced three types of bacteria. That lowered the pH, causing minerals to break down and release their phosphorus, which is a vital component of plant growth. This could be one small step towards lunar agriculture, both for food and to help with oxygen generation through photosynthesis.