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July 5, 2011

"Moon Trees" of NASA: They came from space



Q. What is a "moon tree?"

A. A tree grown from seeds taken into space by Apollo 14 in 1971.


Wrote Elizabeth Weise in a February 17, 2011 USA Today story , "NASA is trying to track down several hundred aging travelers who flew to the moon and back 40 years ago and now live quietly across the United States."

"The agency announced last week that it is still searching for several hundred 'moon trees' grown from seeds carried aboard the Apollo 14 command module that orbited the moon in 1971. Part science experiment, part public relations campaign, the idea was to see whether space flight affected their ability to sprout."


Approximately 450 of the seeds had sprouted and grown large enough to be transplanted by 1975, and over the next few years NASA and the U.S. Forest Service shipped the saplings out to be planted in parks and on on public grounds.

At which point they disappeared from the screen, only to be resurrected by a third grader in Indiana who in 1996, asked to write about local trees, said to her teacher, "You know, there's this tree at camp that has a sign that says it's a moon tree."


As of February 2011 79 of the trees had been located.


If you know of a moon tree, email NASA's Dave Williams: dave.williams@nasa.gov.

FunFact: I have a sealed package of tomato seeds carried into space.

The packet says:

Space Exposed Seeds

These seeds were flown in space aboard the LDEF which was launched April 6, 1984 on Space Shuttle Challenger and returned to Earth January 20, 1990 on Space Shuttle Columbia.

I haven't yet found the right place to plant them.

Wonder what they'd bring on eBay....

July 5, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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