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Take your own giant leap into space exploration!

Participants in the Plant the Moon Challenge will join a global science experiment and research challenge to examine how vegetable crops can grow in lunar or Martian soil. Each team will receive real soil simulant from the University of Central Florida’s CLASS Exolith Lab! You will design and conduct a set of experiments using this simulant to grow crops for a future long-duration mission.

Teams will use the Project Guide to help define their own experimental parameters, such as the structure of the plant growth setup, amount of water used, and nutrients or fertilizer added to the simulant to support plant growth. After a 10-week growing period, you will submit final project reports and join the global network of researchers helping to expand our space exploration capabilities!

Your team will submit a report detailing your experiment setup, parameters, and results to help NASA scientists understand how to use lunar soil to provide nutritious crops for future missions to the Moon or Mars!

All participants with completed projects will be invited to showcase their work at a virtual symposium with NASA scientists, program executives, and other dignitaries, where Best-in-Show awards will be presented to teams with the best experiments in a variety of categories.

Mars crops 2
Mars crops 3

What is the structure of the PTMC?

At the core of this challenge is the scientific method and design process. These steps can be summarized into the four parts of conducting a PTMC experiment: Research, Design, Plant & Monitor, and Analyze & Present. Within each phase, you will encounter check point tasks that will step you through the process of completing your experiment. These will be supplemented with live events from which you can gain additional support and networking opportunities.

What’s needed for a team?

One team represents a maximum of 10 students. While there is no minimum number of team members required to participate, teams tend to be more successful with at least 2-3 partipants. Each kit provides 10 pots, 10 KN95 masks, and simulant for around 10 plants. The Challenge is judged for Best in Show Awards at four levels - Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and Undergraduate/Professional.

How much time does it take?

Embarking on the Plant the Moon Challenge is a rewarding and exciting undertaking. Through the Pre-Season Planning, Grow Period, and Report Period of the challenge, the Team Coach will have different roles and responsibilities. You can expect to commit 12-24 hours to the challenge across the season. The total time you will commit depends on the level of involvement that you wish to have throughout the project.

What comes in a kit?

Each kit comes with a 5kg bag of lunar or Martian simulant, a pH meter, ten KN95 masks, ten pots, and a flier to help you get started. With your purchase and registration, you will also gain access to the digital Project Guide which provides in-depth guidance on each phase and task of the competition. Supplemental materials will be needed to conduct your experiment such as pots, seeds, and soil amendments. The additional materials that you will need to purchase will vary based on the parameters of your experimental design.

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Project Timeline

What will the Plant the Moon Challenge process look like?

Tuesday, April 2

Monday, July 8

Sunday, August 11

Sunday, August 11

August 26-30

September 3-20

Sunday, September 15

Monday, September 16

Sunday, September 22

Sunday, September 29

Monday, September 30

Sunday, October 13

Wednesday, October 16

Sunday, November 3

Wednesday, November 5

Sunday, November 24

Sunday, December 15

Sunday, December 22

Wednesday, January 15

Registration Opens

Space Grant Funding Applications Open

Space Grant Funding Applications Close

International Registration Closes

Space Grant Funding Recipients Notified

Shipping Period

Registration Closes

Opening Symposium

1: Team Demographic Data Survey Due

2: Initial Experimental Designs Due

Grow Period Begins

3: Intro Videos Due

Informal Office Hours

4: Midpoint Grow Updates Due

Q&A with SAB

Grow Period Ends

5: Final Reports Due

6: Project Videos & Surveys Due

Closing Awards Ceremony

Choose Your Mission

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Launch Pad Complex: Successful Rocket Launching with Crew on a Space Exploration Mission. Flying Spaceship Blasts Flames and Smoke on a Take-Off. Humanity in Space, Conquering Universe
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Help NASA and Humanity

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Help NASA and Humanity

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