Why are there no trees on the Moon?

winter-trees

This question came up whilst we were playing with Lego, creating a lunar landscape and building spaceships. My daughter started to make a moon garden, then stopped and thought for a moment… “Mummy, are there trees on the Moon?”

We thought about what the Moon is like.

The surface of the Moon is made of rock and it has lots of craters from being hit by asteroids. We know this because astronauts who visited the Moon collected some moon rocks and moon soil for scientists to study back on Earth. Traces of water have been found on the Moon but there are no rivers or seas like the ones we have on Earth.

The Moon has a very, very thin ‘atmosphere’ which is a mixture of small amounts of several kinds of gases but there is no air or wind like we have on Earth. And because the atmosphere is so thin, the temperature on the surface of the Moon changes from being very hot to very cold. The sunny side of the Moon can get hotter than boiling water and the dark side can be much, much colder than Antarctica!

Now, all living creatures on Earth (including trees) need five things to be able to survive:

  1. sunlight – for energy and warmth
  2. food – for energy and growth
  3. water – for their body chemistry to work
  4. air – to breathe
  5. habitat – a place to live that has the right temperature

So, because there is no air, no water and no atmosphere, and because the temperature changes from very hot to very cold, the Moon is not a good place for Earth creatures to live.

But, scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States of America are hoping to send plants to the Moon to see if they can get them to grow up there in a special self-contained habitat!

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