Troy University gets tree that flew around the moon

TROY, Ala (WDHN) — Troy University has received an out-of-this-world gift from NASA.

NASA selected Troy University to receive a “Moon Tree” seedling that flew around the moon in late 2022 during the Artemis I mission.

Troy received its loblolly pine tree seedling on Friday, April 26. The university plans to plant it on the Meadowloop Trail at the campus’s Arboretum.

Troy was among 50 institutions nationwide that NASA chose to receive the trees.

In a release from the university, Dr. Alvin Diamond, biology professor and Director of the Arboretum, said he plans to use the tree in different interactions tailored to the varying age groups Troy and the Arboretum service.

Dr. Alvin Diamond with the moon tree, a loblolly pine
Dr. Alvin Diamond with the Moon Tree (Courtesy of Troy University)

For the younger kids, to actually have something that’s been to outer space that they can see and touch will hopefully inspire them to look into STEM careers,” Dr. Diamond said. “With the older students, we can look at things about how space travel affects the human body and other living things and what we can do to protect people in space. Hopefully having something hands-on will inspire the students more than just reading from a book.”

The Artimes I trees included sycamores, sweetgums, Douglas firs, loblolly pines, and giant sequoias. From November 16, 2022, to December 11, 2022, they were flown around the moon’s surface 270,000 miles from Earth aboard the Orion.

Since returning to the earth’s surface, the trees have been under the care of the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

“A new era of moon trees will one day stand tall in communities across America,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a NASA-issued press release on April 24. “NASA is bringing the spirit of exploration back down to Earth because space belongs to everyone. The Artemis Generation will carry forth these seedlings that will be fertile ground for creativity, inspiration, and discovery for years to come.”

Additional trees will be sent to various organizations in the fall of 2024, spring 2025, and fall 2025.

The university is in the process of scheduling a day for the tree-planting ceremony.

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