Physics and Astronomy

Artemis Moon Tree

In November 2022, NASA sent its Artemis I mission to orbit the Moon, and while the spacecraft was uncrewed, five different species of tree seeds were along for the ride.

After their return, NASA enlisted the aid of the U.S. Forest Service to grow the seeds, and one of these rare moon tree seedlings was recently planted on the SUNY New Paltz campus. The tree is a sweetgum, and it can be found in front of Science Hall along the Mohonk Walk.

NASA’s Moon Tree initiative is a joint project with the U.S. Forest Service,  which is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is designed to promote both science and conservation education simultaneously.

The U.S. Forest Service began accepting applications last year for educational and community organizations to grow a piece of spaceflight history on their grounds, and SUNY New Paltz was one of only 50 community institutions selected from among 1,300 applications.  

Upon learning about the Moon Tree program, SUNY New Paltz Physics and Astronomy Chair Amy Bartholomew submitted an application almost immediately.

“It will be exciting to see our Moon Tree grow,” she said. “We hope it inspires students and the community to get involved in space and environmentalism.”

The location of the south side of Science Hall was chosen due to the public visibility from New Paltz’s Route 32, and because it is close to where buses park to bring thousands of school children to the campus every year for Planetarium shows. A public dedication event is expected in fall 2024.   

Want a preview of the New Paltz Moon Tree? Check out this video from SUNY New Paltz’s Facebook.