The perilous mission to grow plants on the moon – and save humanity
The true rose of Jericho is a desert plant that blooms where other life falters. Growing in arid regions across Africa and the Middle East, in some of the most inhospitable corners of Earth, it is capable of withstanding temperatures in excess of 40C and prolonged periods of drought. Long after it dries out, the plant persists; waiting for a few drops of rain in order for its branches to unfurl and reveal its seeds.
The plant has long been regarded as possessing special powers. In desert folklore it was considered a weather prognosticator able to predict incoming rains. For Christians in the Middle East, it symbolised the resurrection of Jesus. Now another miracle is hoped for the true rose of Jericho – to become the first plant to flourish on the moon.
An international consortium of scientists has launched one of the most daring enterprises in the history of horticulture, to grow terrestrial plants in this alien environment 240,000 miles away.
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