I catch a lot of flak for my open-minded approach to mysteries in space, especially for not dissing the possiblity of UFOs. But I came across a story about NASA’s Moon Trees recently and admitted to myself if someone told me about trees that literally traveled from Earth to Moon to Earth I probably wouldn't believe it. But this story happens to be true. The seeds literally were part of the Moon orbit, however. They weren’t taken to the lunar surface.
According to the National Space Science Data Center, Apollo 14 launched in the late afternoon of January 31, 1971. Five days later Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell walked on the Moon while Stuart Roosa, a former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper, orbited above in the command module. Packed in small containers in Roosa's personal kit were hundreds of tree seeds, part of a joint NASA/USFS project. Upon return to Earth, the seeds were germinated by the Forest Service. Known as the "Moon Trees", the resulting seedlings were planted throughout the United States (often as part of the nation's bicentennial in 1976) and the world. They stand as a tribute to astronaut Roosa and the Apollo program.
Seeds were chosen from five different types of trees: Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Redwood, and Douglas Fir. The seeds were classified and sorted, and control seeds were kept on Earth for later comparison. Roosa carried about 400 - 500 seeds in his personal kit which stayed with him as he orbited the Moon in the command module "Kitty Hawk" in February, 1971. Unfortunately, the seed cannisters burst open during the decontamination procedures after their return to Earth, and the seeds got mixed together and were presumed to be no longer viable. Turns out they were viable and the rest is history.
NASA has a list of Moon Tree locations on the agency website, and there’s a photo of a Moon Tree, a Sycamore, [photo above] at the Goddard Space Flight Center. President Gerald Ford even sent a congratulatory Moon Tree telegram to mark the planting of the trees. Next time you want to strike up a conversation, try telling someone you can't prove the existence of UFOs (yet), but there are Moon Trees growing right here on Earth and NASA confirms your claim.
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[Text filed by Kay B. Day; photo from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.]