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From the Desert to the Moon, Israel Shoots for Outer Space Agriculture

October 21, 2022

by: Kate Norman

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Israeli research investigates the possibility of bases on the moon.

Friday, 21 October 2022 | Israel’s next foray into the final frontier is an experiment in growing plants on the moon.

The Jewish state is planning to send up a space mission called Beresheet 2 (“Beginning,” the Hebrew name for the book of Genesis) in 2025.

A research group from Israel’s Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, southern Israel, has already been working on growing food in the harsh, arid Negev desert.

The Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research is partnering with Australian and South African universities to develop a small greenhouse, weighing just two kilograms (4.4 lbs.), that will carry seeds aboard the Beresheet 2 flight in 2025.

Researchers will send the sealed greenhouse up equipped to provide the seeds with automatic water and heat, as well as equipment to photograph the plants, the Times of Israel reported. The greenhouse will carry the required atmospheric gas to keep the plants healthy. The entire experiment will need to work quickly, as the greenhouse will only have enough battery life to last 72 hours.

The team will send up what is known as resurrection plants, which can survive extreme hydration, and grow quickly. The plants will have to survive the trip to the moon—which takes approximately four and a half months—in extreme temperatures, research team coordinator Prof. Simon Barak of the university’s Jacob Blaustein Institute told the Times of Israel.

The overall point of the experiment, Barak said, is to prepare for the future.

“Bases on the moon or colonies on Mars could become a reality,” Barak said, “and we’re exploring whether we know how to grow plants there.”

Astronauts are already growing plants on the International Space Station, but sending up a greenhouse with the Earth’s atmosphere that is subject to the moon’s microgravity will be new territory, the Times of Israel reported.

“Plants would be important for food, for oxygen, for medication, for removing CO2 from the air, and also for general wellbeing,” Barak added, “as it’s known that having plants around you promotes well-being.”

Beresheet 2 will be Israel’s second launch to the moon, following Beresheet, the robotic lunar lander that SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries launched in 2019 and ended up crashing on the moon.

The launch in 2025 will consist of a space mission that will send two spacecraft onto the moon over three years, the Jerusalem Post reported.

One of those landers will carry the tiny greenhouse, holding dormant seeds, that if all goes well, will awaken when the experiment is launched three years from now.

Posted on October 21, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 21, 2022)

Photo Credit: Dylan O'Donnell/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

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