Advancing Lunar Exploration: NASA Funds Ground Studies on Organisms’ Response to Lunar Regolith

ROSES-2022 Program Element E.9 Supports Research on Space Biology and Lunar Regolith

In a significant step towards advancing lunar exploration, NASA has announced the funding of eleven groundbreaking research projects. These projects, submitted in response to the ROSES-2022 Program Element E.9 “Space Biology Research Studies,” aim to investigate the response of plant and animal models, along with their associated microbes, to lunar regolith simulant. This collaboration between the Space Biology Program and NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division marks a crucial milestone in understanding the potential challenges and opportunities for future lunar missions.

Exploring the Impact of Lunar Regolith on Organisms

The primary focus of these studies is to characterize the response of organisms to lunar regolith simulant, which closely resembles the composition of the lunar soil found at NASA’s candidate landing sites. By examining the effects of lunar regolith on various organisms, scientists hope to gain insights into the potential impacts of extended stays on the lunar surface and develop strategies to mitigate any adverse effects. This research will not only enhance our understanding of the moon’s environment but also contribute to the development of sustainable habitats for future human missions.

Collaborative Efforts between Space Biology and ARES Division

The funding opportunity, Program Element E.9, represents a joint effort between the Space Biology Program and NASA’s ARES Division. The Space Biology Program, dedicated to studying the effects of space on living organisms, is partnering with the ARES Division, which specializes in astromaterials research and exploration science. This collaboration ensures that the research projects have access to the necessary lunar regolith simulant provided by the ARES Division.

Unveiling the Potential of Lunar Regolith Simulant

The lunar regolith simulant plays a crucial role in these studies, as it serves as a proxy for the actual lunar soil. By utilizing a simulant that closely mimics the composition and properties of lunar regolith, scientists can conduct comprehensive ground studies without the need for expensive and logistically challenging lunar sample return missions. This approach allows for a more efficient and cost-effective investigation into the potential effects of lunar regolith on organisms.

Diverse Research Projects to Uncover New Insights

The eleven selected research projects encompass a wide range of organisms and scientific approaches. From studying the growth and development of plants in lunar regolith simulant to examining the effects of regolith exposure on animal health and behavior, these projects promise to shed light on the intricate relationship between organisms and their lunar environment. Additionally, researchers will explore the interactions between organisms and the associated microbial communities, uncovering the potential role of microbes in mitigating the effects of lunar regolith.

Implications for Future Lunar Missions

The findings from these ground studies will have significant implications for future lunar missions. Understanding how organisms, including plants and animals, respond to lunar regolith will inform the design and operation of habitats and life support systems on the moon. It will also provide critical insights into the potential risks and challenges faced by astronauts during extended stays on the lunar surface. By addressing these key scientific questions, NASA is taking proactive steps towards ensuring the success and safety of future lunar exploration missions.


The funding of these eleven research projects represents a major leap forward in our understanding of the impact of lunar regolith on organisms. By collaborating with the Space Biology Program and the ARES Division, NASA is fostering interdisciplinary research that combines expertise in space biology and astromaterials science. The insights gained from these studies will not only contribute to our knowledge of the moon’s environment but also pave the way for sustainable and successful lunar exploration missions. As we embark on the next chapter of human space exploration, these research endeavors will play a vital role in shaping our understanding of the moon and its potential for future habitation.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *