As Space agencies look forward to establishing a long-term human presence on the moon, they need to figure out how to sustain the lunar explorers with abundant fresh food without having to send food supplies frequently from Earth. To provide a sustainable solution to growing food on the moon, the European Space Agency (ESA) has partnered with Norwegian lunar agriculture firm, Solsys Mining to create a new hydroponics method that allows the transformation of lunar soil into fertilizer.
This new idea could form could be deployed by NASA in establishing a permanent presence on the moon starting with its upcoming Artemis space program. What is the science behind this new hydroponics method of farming on the moon? Can we possibly use this method in the future? Continue reading to find out.
The Science behind this new hydroponics method of farming on the lunar soil
Since the existence of humans on this terrestrial planet, we have only explored the science of farming only on our home planet Earth. However, scientists strongly believe that this new method will make it possible for astronauts to grow food on the moon.
The idea of this method is obtained from previous research conducted on growing plants in lunar soil. Researchers working on this project will experience several challenges as lunar soils lack the potential nitrogen compounds that partly support the growth of plants on Earth. However, ESA and Solsys Mining scientists are researching how to overcome this challenge and make this method practically possible on the lunar surface.
To ensure that this project is successful, experts from ESA, Solsys Mining, the Center for Interdisciplinary Research, and Norway’s Geotechnical Institute came together to create this new hydroponics method of growing plants in the lunar soil.
Keep in mind that Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in nutrient-rich water instead of the traditional means of using soil. Scientists all across the world have been practicing this method of farming using vertical farming facilities. However, researchers participating in this new project believe that this method which has been utilized on Earth could help astronauts to cultivate on the moon.
ESA led a new study to analyze the best means of extracting the highest amount of nutrients from lunar soil using this new hydroponics method. The space agency has already budgeted €100,000 for this study and it will certainly be concluded towards the end of 2023.
“This work is essential for future long-term lunar exploration,” Malgorzata Holynska, ESA materials and processes engineer, explained in an ESA press statement. “Achieving a sustainable presence on the Moon will involve using local resources and gaining access to nutrients present in lunar regolith with the potential to help cultivate plants. The current study represents a proof of principle using available lunar regolith simulants, opening the way to more detailed research in the future.”
At the end of the study, ESA scientists will come up with a satisfactory idea that will enable astronauts to farm on the moon and grow food abundantly in our closest neighboring satellite.
Will Astronauts Grow Food on the moon using this new hydroponics method?
If we must colonize the moon before the end of this century, we must figure out how to grow food abundantly on the lunar surface. Transporting fresh foods in resupply missions will certainly cost space agencies a fortune. Hence, if we figure out how to grow food without depending on resupply from Earth, space agencies will save costs while still meeting the requirements of long-term lunar exploration goals.
Astronauts will use this new hydroponics method to extract nutrients from lunar soil to make fertilizer for hydroponics farming. This implies that space agencies will have to build a processing plant on the lunar surface to fully take advantage of this unique farming method when the time comes.
This processing plant will be used to extract the nutrients from the lunar regolith and pump them into a greenhouse for hydroponics farming. Scientists have already used this unique method to grow food abundantly on Earth. If we can confidently practice hydroponics farming on Earth, we should be able to do the same on the moon and beyond.
Extracting rich nutrients from lunar soil for hydroponics farming will be one of the best innovations humans have ever created outside our home planet. Since the lunar regolith is in excess on the moon’s surface, astronauts will never run out of options for growing food abundantly on the moon. What do you think of astronauts using this unique method of farming to grow plants in excess on the moon?