Artemis Moon tree seedlings to be planted throughout the US

The seedlings have been grown from seeds that flew around the Moon on NASA's Artemis I mission.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of a tree being planted.jpg
Representational image of a tree being planted.


NASA and the USDA Forest Service have joined forces to supply education and community organizations throughout the United States with “a living piece of spaceflight history” in the shape of  “a seedling grown from a tree seed that flew around the Moon on NASA's Artemis I mission.”

This is according to a press release by the space agency published on Thursday.

The initiative is meant to promote interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The Artemis Moon tree seedlings consist of five different species, sycamores, sweetgums, Douglas-firs, loblolly pines, and giant sequoias, and come from seeds that traveled 270,000 miles from Earth aboard the Orion spacecraft during Artemis I in late 2022. It is estimated that nearly 2,000 seeds were flown aboard the craft and will soon be planted on Earth throughout the United States.

“NASA’s Artemis Moon trees are bringing the science and ingenuity of space exploration back down to Earth,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“Last year, these seeds flew on the Artemis I mission 40,000 miles beyond the Moon. With the help of the USDA, this new generation of Moon trees will plant the spirit of exploration across our communities and inspire the next generation of explorers.”

The event will mark the second time seeds that have traveled to the Moon are planted on Earth. In the 1970s, the first generation of seeds found their way on American soil after Apollo 14 Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa, a former Forest Service smoke jumper, carried them on his mission as a part of his personal kit. 

Today, just like more than 50 years ago, the Forest Service played a key role in germinating and growing the seeds into seedlings. The current seedlings are now ready to take on their new roles as Artemis Moon trees.

“The seeds that flew on the Artemis mission will soon be Moon Trees standing proudly on campuses and institutions across the country,” said Randy Moore, Forest Service chief. 

“These future Moon Trees, like those that came before them, serve as a potent symbol that when we put our mind to a 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.”

Organizations that engage with students, or the public, have till Friday, October 6 to apply for an Artemis Moon tree seedling. NASA specifies that “eligible institutions include formal and informal K-12-serving organizations, universities, community organizations, museums and science centers, and government organizations.”

Seedlings will be awarded according to viability criteria in order to ensure they can flourish where planted. Furthermore, the Forest Service “will identify the seedling species for selected recipients based on geographical region in the contiguous United States.”

Applications can be made through NASA’s Artifact Module and instructions on the process can be found here. Distributions of the seedlings will take place in 2023 and 2024.

The initiative is a joint effort between NASA’s Next Gen STEM project and the Forest Service. The Artemis I mission launched on November 16, 2022 and sent the Orion spacecraft on a 25-day journey beyond the Moon before returning to Earth.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board