Ever heard of moon trees before? In 1971, the Apollo 14 space mission took off with a former US Forest Service Smokejumper on board. Stuart Roosa, who had worked with the Forest Service since the 1950’s carried with him 400-500 tree seeds, specifically of Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Redwood, and Douglas Fir. The experiment was to test whether the weightlessness of Space had any effect on the look and properties of the trees. If they even sprouted, that is.
As the Apollo 14 mission reached the Moon, Roosa remained on board and orbited the moon, with all the seeds in their own containers. However, while orbiting, the containers burst. This left Roosa and his research team wondering if the experiment was even viable any more. When they arrived back on Earth, the seeds were planted in the USA and around the world. Roosa and his team waited with baited breath to see if the seeds would grow. Sure enough, with enough time, small green seedlings began to pop out of the ground. They grew to be the same as their earth-bound brethren, and the experiment was a success.
Are there any moon trees left?
There are currently around 70 Moon Trees left around the world, with most being in the USA. These trees serve not only as a reminder and memorial of Stuart Roosa and the Apollo 14 mission, but also of the ingenuity of human engineering, and the passion we all share for discovery. By taking those seeds into Space, we furthered our knowledge on the power of the trees of this Earth. Nature has become the way that it is because it has withstood millions of years of trials. The Moon Trees are simply an example of this power.
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