EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Botany on The Moon 

Heather Smith
Heather Smith
  • KISS Institute For Practical Robotics (KIPR) / NASA ARC STT, Planetary Systems Branch, United States of America (

We propose a suite of instruments, Botany on The Moon, designed to investigate the feasibility of plant growth on the Moon. Botany is composed of two single-species plant growth modules (Arabidopsis, & radish) plus two environmental monitoring instruments that record (1) direct and scattered sunlight in the photosynthetically active radiation or wavelengths (termed PAR), and (2) level of cosmic radiation and induced lunar neutrons. Together these four investigations contribute to our understanding of how plants can be grown on the Moon.

The core perspective in Botany is that physical experiments are needed to understand plant growth on the Moon. Little is known about plant behavior in reduced (fractional) gravity environments (less than the nominal 1g that occurs on Earth). How biology responds to partial gravity (in combination with radiation effects) remains unexplored.

Botany’s primary science goals can be achieved during the sunlit timeframe of a Lunar Day. However, significantly more data and knowledge is gained by extending the growth duration window to approximately 45 Earth days. Hence, Botany is proposing to take advantage of the CLPS provided Survive-the-Night service.  If the CLPS provider is able to provide power for Botany to survive the night, our secondary science goal to determine the feasibility of transitioning the plants from a normal growth phase (at 22oC during the sunlit time) to a slow growth phase (at 5oC during the nighttime), returning to normal growth phase (at 22oC during the second sunlit time) can be achieved. However, all of Botany’s primary science goals can be achieved during the lunar sunlit timeframe, albeit with the loss of data due to the shorter growth duration. The Botany instrument suite including the LPX plant chambers are designed for a 45 Earth-day mission on the Lunar surface, including surviving the 354 hours of the Lunar night. The Botany on The Moon proposed project has a payload mass of ~ 12kg and estimated cost of ~ $11.5 Million U.S. dollars.

The 20-person Botany payload team is led by a mid-career women scientist and involves a gender diverse science and engineering team at various stages in their career from 10 institutions located within three countries. The Botany team includes NASA ARC, KIPR (a long-term NASA ARC contract organization), SDL, UNC-G (a minority serving institution (MSI)), a Canadian instrument provided by McMaster University, and a science team from various institutions. Our team combines complimentary skills, mission management experience, and expertise in plant science.

How to cite: Smith, H.: Botany on The Moon , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-10788,, 2023.