11 April 2008

Planting a Garden On the Moon and COS 49

A permanent manned presence on the moon will require lunar residents to produce their own food on Luna. This introduction to the topic of lunar agriculture was featured in the Carnival of Space #49.
There are two main types of seleneculture generally considered: hydroponic and soil-based. As its name implies, hydroponics relies primarily on water-delivery of nutrients to the naked roots of different plants. This style of growing plants has been extensively studied by NASA scientists as a means of providing a high-efficiency/low-mass greenhouse for a space station, and is used in industrial farming here on Earth. It may not be ideally suited for the Moon, but would certainly provide a quick way to get started.

Soil-based plant cultivation uses plants in dirt. The most frequent objection in this case is that plants can’t grow in Moon-dirt, so you’d have to ship up tons of Earth dirt for the plants to grow in. This will certainly be true in the beginning though not to the tune of tons, and we probably will be shipping up small quantities of high quality humus. Still, is it true that plants cannot grow in Moon dirt? __read more at Out of the Cradle
Of course, there is a third approach to Lunar agriculture that might work even better than the two above: aeroponics. Aeroponics uses less water than hydroponics, and has no need for soil or other growing medium (except air). In fact, NASA has developed an inflatable aeroponics module, for use in small space stations and space habitats.

Aeroponics International

Biocontrols Aeroponics Systems

Small self-contained aeroponics chamber you can use at home

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