NASA and the Forest Service are providing seedlings to grow “moon trees” on Artemis

August 24, 2023

– NASA is seeking education and community organizations to help grow a practical forest of trees of unique proportions – the moon.

Inspired by the Apollo astronauts’ initiative, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Space Agency and Forest Service is looking to grow seedlings grown from seeds flown around the moon on NASA’s Artemis I mission in 2022.

More than 1,000 seeds from five different tree species were flown as part of the official flight kit on the 26-day uncrewed test flight. The Artemis program aims to create a sustainable way to return astronauts to the lunar surface in preparation for sending humans to Mars.

“Last year, these seeds on the Artemis 1 mission flew 40,000 miles (64,375 kilometers) beyond the moon. With the help of the USDA, this new generation of ‘moon trees’ will plant the spirit of exploration through our communities and inspire the next generation.” generation of explorers.” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “NASA’s Artemis moon trees bring the science and ingenuity of space exploration back to Earth.”

In 1971, Apollo 14 command module pilot Stuart Rosa, a former Forest Service smoke jumper, carried hundreds of tree seeds as part of his personal favorite collection. After the Moon mission returned to Earth, the Forest Service germinated the seeds. Apollo moon tree seedlings were planted across the country, many of which were part of the celebration of the United States Bicentennial in 1976.

Now, NASA hopes a new generation of moonwalkers will take root and continue the legacy of inspiration launched more than 50 years ago. The seeds that traveled 270,000 miles (435,000 km) from Earth on the Artemis I Orion spacecraft included sycamores, sweet gum, Douglas fir, lobuli pine, and giant sequoias. Through the care of the Forest Service, the seeds have been germinated and grown into seedlings in preparation for their new roles as Artemis moon trees.

“The seeds that flew on the Artemis mission will soon become the moon trees that stand proudly at universities and institutions across the country,” said Randy Moore, head of the Forest Service. “These future moon trees, like those that came before them, are a powerful symbol that when we set our minds to task, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. They will inspire future generations of scientists, whose research underpins all that we do here at the Forest Service. .”

Schools, libraries, museums, and other entities that interact with students or the public are encouraged to apply for moon tree seedlings NASA Artifact Unit. Eligible institutions include formal and informal K-12 organizations, universities, community organizations, science centers, and government agencies.

The application period ends October 6.

NASA and the Forest Service will review applications to determine the feasibility of successfully hosting seedlings; The Forest Service will assign seedling species to selected recipients based on the geographic area in the contiguous United States. NASA is working with the Forest Service to determine schedules for seedling distribution in 2023 and 2024.

By planting Artemis moon trees, NASA is working to find new ways for communities across the country to connect with humanity’s exploration of space.

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