NASA, in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, is kicking off its upcoming school year with a unique opportunity for teachers.
Last year, nearly 2000 tree seeds traveled to the moon and back to Earth aboard the Artemis I, Orion space capsule.
Additionally, teachers will have the opportunity to create interactive lessons around its moon tree with a STEM tool kit to implement into the curriculum.
An American sycamore grown from a seed that flew aboard Apollo 14, one of the original moon trees, stands at the Cradle of Forestry, situated on the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. (Credit: USDA Forest Service & NASA photo)
The Artemis Moon Trees project harks back to 1971 when Stuart Roosa, the command module pilot for the Apollo 14 mission, orbited the moon with tree seeds tucked into his personal kit, according to the Forest Service.
Roosa, a former Forest Service smokejumper, carried these seeds at the request of the Forest Service chief. The employees then grew these seeds into seedlings and distributed them across the country. Many moon trees survive today.
The Forest Service said this next generation of moon trees builds upon this legacy but traveled much deeper into space than their predecessors.
One thousand tree seeds are sealed in packets like this for Artemis I's trip around the moon. (Credit: NASA photo)
"For this mission, scientists included additional seed sources for species having large natural ranges: American sycamore and Douglas-fir. These additional seed sources will help the Moon Trees team match the genetics of the species with planting sites to help ensure the long-term health of the trees," Kasten Dumroese, research plant physiologist and national nursery specialist with the Rocky Mountain Research Station said in a statement.
As part of their preflight training, the seeds were x-rayed and packaged in special pouches to help them remain healthy.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.