Troy University selected to plant, care for ‘Moon Tree’

TROY, Ala. (TROJANVISION) — Troy University now has a direct connection to space exploration thanks to a new addition to its Arboretum.

TROY’s Arboretum is full of trees, but its newest edition is a special one. After receiving hundreds of applications, Troy University was selected to receive a tree seedling that flew around the moon.

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“We’re having a ceremony to plant a Moon Tree, which is a loblolly pine seedling that went up on the Artemis space mission,” said Arboretum Director Dr. Alvin Diamond.

NASA’s Artemis I project is a complex mission that aims to continue space exploration by learning more about the moon, and preparing for human-manned missions to Mars.

“The Moon Tree program really started back in the seventies,” Diamond explained. “They came up with the idea of taking some seed up there, letting them be exposed to space, bringing them back, growing them, and then seeing if there’s any differences from ones that were here on Earth.”

Recipients must be able to care for the tree and use it as an educational opportunity.

“We’re very fortunate to have been selected; it was a rather in-depth process,” Diamond told TrojanVision. “You had to talk about your ability to care for and protect the plant, and also things about how are you going to use this plant.”

Diamond hopes the Moon Tree will get more students interested in science.

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“We’re going to be using it in our educational program to maybe get some people who wouldn’t normally be interested in this sort of stuff to give it a second look.”

This project is a continuation of the original moon tree project launched in 1971 after traveling with Apollo 14. Astronaut Stuart Rosa, a former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper, packed hundreds of tree seeds in his personal kit. Alabama received five moon trees that are located in Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscumbia, Tuskegee and in Troy at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

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