Plants and Food for a Permanent Moonbase
For the first flight, the crew will bring along pre-packaged food as all
the astronauts and cosmonauts have done. If we can keep power going on the
lunar base until the next visit, we'd like to have plants on board that
As quickly as we can, we'll get agriculture going so we can close the
food loop as well as atmosphere
purification and revitalization. Our best
guess is that we'll experiment with several isolated biopheres in inflatable
habitats. We're often puzzled over whether the
first moon gardens will be based on a desert biome or a humid tropical
Lunar soil is great for farming, but we have to add fertilizer. There
are phosphates on the moon, which is an important plant nutrient, as well
as oxygen, but little carbon, hydrogen or nitrogen; these need to be
Years ago folks did experiments with soil samples brought back on the Apollo
We're a bit concerned about the aluminum content in lunar soil, though.
Some studies show a statistical link between a high aluminum content in the
soil and a tendency toward early senile dementia among the local population.
This is the case in Japan, for example. It could turn out that we need to be
persnickety about our choice of farming soil; for instance we might have to
grind up tailings from metals processing plants which have extracted aluminum.
Or maybe the lunar community will have to get into hydroponics in a big way.
Or it might not be a big deal after all. We need data.
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