Artemis Moon Trees

NASA and the USDA Forest Service have partnered to send tree seeds to space on Artemis I and bring STEM education that connects Artemis I programming to Earth science, conservation education, data literacy, and citizen science to educators and youth nationwide. Seeds that orbited the Moon are from loblolly pine, Douglas-fir, giant sequoia, American sycamore, and sweetgum trees. Those seeds were germinated by the Forest Service, and some of them are being planted across the country now!

Artemis moon tree seedlings

Artemis I Mission

Artemis I splashed down on December 11th! The tree seeds have been offloaded and sent to Forest Service nurseries to be planted. Read more about the progress of the Artemis mission.

Photo from NASA. (Nov. 28, 2022) On flight day 13, Orion reached its maximum distance from Earth during the Artemis I mission when it was 268,563 miles away from our home planet. Orion has now traveled farther than any other spacecraft built for humans.

What Are Moon Trees?

The original Moon Trees are trees grown from seeds that traveled to space aboard Apollo 14 in 1971 with astronaut Stuart Roosa, a former Forest Service smokejumper. After returning to Earth, these seeds were germinated and planted, resulting in the first generation of Moon Trees. Learn all about the first generation of Moon Trees in this article from NASA.

  • #1 Tree Seeds Are Selected

    The seeds that orbited the Moon on Artemis I are from loblolly pine, Douglas-fir, giant sequoia, American sycamore, and sweetgum trees. The seeds were packed in special "seed raviolis" for their space journey.
  • #2 Tree Seeds Go To Space

    The project flew approximately 1,200 seeds from five tree species aboard Orion. The seeds, which left the Earth on Nov. 16, 2022, orbited the Moon, and traveled 268,563 miles from Earth before splashing down on Dec. 11.
  • #3 Forest Service Scientists Germinate the Seeds

    Kayla Herriman is x-raying tree seeds that traveled 43,051 miles beyond the Moon. The seeds completed their epic journey on NASA’s Orion spacecraft as part of the NASA’s Artemis program. USDA Forest Service scientists, including Herriman, now want to know how space travel may have affected the seeds.
  • #4 Artemis Moon Tree Seedlings Are Planted

    Soon, Artemis Moon Tree seedlings will be ready to plant! Stay tuned for more information!

Planting Artemis Moon Trees

Moon Trees Land at U.S. Capitol

June 4 was out of this world, marking the planting of one of the new Moon Trees, a sweetgum seedling, on the U.S. Capitol grounds. It is now “the most unique tree here as part of our arboretum,” according to Capitol Grounds and Arboretum Director Jim Kaufmann. The sweetgum seedling was grown from tree seeds sent aboard the Artemis I mission as part of a NASA and USDA Forest Service collaboration.

Read the article.

Artemis II astronauts stand with two Forest Service employees and two children around a newly planted sweetgum seedling.

Coeur d’Alene Nursery Manager Aram Eramian was busy during a week in late April helping schools around the Spokane, Washington area plant their Artemis Moon Trees. These seedlings are American sycamores that were germinated and grown at the Coeur d’Alene Nursery in Idaho. The schools were selected after completing a proposal process. View more photos of Artemis Moon Tree plantings here.

Natural Inquirer is excited to partner with the Forest Service to provide a variety of Moon Trees educational resources. We will be updating this site as new education products become available. We will also be adding links to additional NASA educational opportunities related to Moon Trees.


Technical Guides for Urban Tree Monitoring

These Forest Service technical reports are helpful for anyone seeking to repeatedly monitor the same sets of individual trees to assess change over time, such as a repeat inventory of street trees or tracking trees planted through a specific program.

The English versions were led by Lara Roman and Natalie van Doorn, both Forest Service scientists, representing researchers from the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station & Northern Research Station, along with colleagues from universities and urban forestry professionals.

The Spanish translations were done with a bilingual team from Forest Service International Programs and International Institute of Tropical Forestry and support from the Washington Office Urban & Community Forestry team.

  • PDF preview of the Urban Tree Monitoring Field Guide featuring a photo of urban trees surrounded by pavement.

    Urban Tree Monitoring: A Field Guide

    This technical report contains protocols for monitoring urban trees in the field for change over time metrics, such as rates of mortality/survival and growth, and changes in crown vigor. For example, this Field Guide includes detailed methods for mortality status and crown vigor, as well as recording tree location and diameter at breast height to reliably re-locate the same tree in the future and record trunk growth.
  • PDF preview of Urban Tree Monitoring: A Resource Guide featuring a photo of trees lining a city street.

    Urban Tree Monitoring: A Resource Guide

    This companion report to "Urban Tree Monitoring: A Field Guide" contains strategies and best practices for designing and implementing a monitoring project, such as aligning goals with variable selection, structuring longitudinal data sets, and managing field crews. This report also contains examples of the monitoring protocols in action.