In the movie Martian, When Matt Damon's character managed to grow potatoes on Mars, I am sure you must have cheered at least a little bit. After all, it's not a small feat growing something on an alien planet (even if it was just in a movie).
Back here on Earth, we are quite used to growing our own food. Ever since agriculture was started some 12,000 years ago, we have been growing and making an infinite variety of food for ourselves.
In fact, without it, it's difficult to imagine how we would have been able to get to where we are today. Food is a basic need for survival and we have to ensure its availability to foster as a civilization.
The same will be true when we start colonizing other planets and moons. We will need to make sure that we can grow food on these alien worlds before we can even think of going there. To this end, one of NASA's scientists conducted an experiment to see if Radishes could grow on the Moon.
With the world in lockdown mode and dealing with a pandemic, Max Coleman, a NASA scientist has been trying to find out whether radishes can be grown in lunar soil. And he has been doing this in his kitchen.
The reason he chose radishes is that they germinate very fast. This will be important on the moon as astronauts will only get 14 Earth days of light followed by no Sun for the next 14 Earth days. So, they would need food that grows rapidly and easily. Radishes fit these requirements.
To conduct this experiment, he used radish seeds and sand. Obviously, he didn't have access to real lunar soil, so he chose sand which is just as devoid of nutrients as the lunar soil is.
He found out that radishes can indeed grow in sand and that too with minimal amounts of water. Once this is established, the next step would be to actually grow radishes on the moon which might still take a few years.
However, it is encouraging to know that it might be possible to grow our own food on alien worlds. This will be critical for any self-sustaining colonies on these worlds.