Scientists from the University of Florida have successfully grown plants in soil collected from the moon, NASA reported.

How did scientists grow plants in lunar soil?

The scientists used lunar soil samples collected on Apollo 11, 12, and 17 missions to grow Arabidopsis thaliana, or Thale cress, in a lab, according to a study published in the Communications Biology journal.

After planting small seeds in the moon soil, also called lunar regolith, the researchers noticed that the seeds sprouted quickly within the next few days, per NPR.

“It was amazing to see that every plant group, all the seedlings germinated,” Anna-Lisa Paul, the director for the University of Florida’s Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research, said.

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Researchers discovered that the plants were “not as robust as plants grown in Earth soil ... but they did indeed grow,” according to the press release from NASA.

Why the discovery matters

This is a step forward in the direction of someday growing plants on the moon.

“This research is critical to NASA’s long-term human exploration goals as we’ll need to use resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.