Nope, not an addendum to the recent water on the Moon stories (“yeah, yeah there’s water up there – oh, while we’re at it, we forgot to mention the ecosystem we discovered…”), but an addition to an attempt to win the Google Lunar X Prize.
The GLXP wants a private company to land a rover on the Moon, have it move along for half a kilometre and send back high definition images of the journey. The winners will receive $30 million should they do it before 2014. One group vying for the title is Odyssey Moon, an Isle of Man based company and the first of around 20 to be registered entrants for the prize.
In order to accrue funding, Odyssey have been offering space in its payload to other organisations. One that has taken up the offer is the Paragon Space Development Corporation. Paragon have a history of running plant growth experiments in space, on Mir and the Space Shuttle and are interested in sending mustard seeds to the Moon. It is likely that the plants, housed in a 37.5cm high, 18cm wide greenhouse dome, would die during the long frigid lunar night, but should they survive one, the plants would have a chance of going through their entire life cycle, producing seeds on the Moon.