Life Support Systems
Section 4.3.5.
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Lunar Lighting Plant Experiment Results

Bill Hirst

This preliminary experiment determines the stresses of growing terrestrial plants on a 14-day Lunar lighting cycle. It was lit with banks of flourescent lighting a few inches above the leaves for 14 days, then put in total darkness for another 14 days.

Six breeds of plants were tested: soybeans, corn, carrots, lettuce, cabbage and sunflowers. They were grown in a garage in rich, commercial soil and well tended. Lights were turned on with the germination of the first seeds.

End of Light Cycle 1

Toward the end of the first light cycle things didn't look too healthy. Everything is showing signs of serious stress.

The soybeans got to be 9" tall, but with only a pair of leaves on each stalk. Some of the leaves were wilted looking a few days ago, and now some are yellowish. At least they're still standing up straight.

The corn would be 12", but it all fell over. The leaves haven't separated from the stalks much, but they're green and supple feeling. Some of the stalks look brownish near the soil line, and break easily. It might be, however, that they are over-watered.

The carrots are all wilted and dead looking and lying like short little threads in the dirt. They never got over an inch tall.

The lettuce is 2" tall, and the only crop that looks halfway healthy.

The cabbage (3") is a bit less leafy than the lettuce, and doing so-so.

The sunflowers look mostly ok, but again most of them are lying flat. Nice green leaves, but they should be standing up straight. 4" long stalks.

End of Dark Cycle 1

After a week of dark, all the plants are dead. Some of the plants have developed fuzzy mold. The corn actually fell over by bending near the base of the stalk, as if it grew too fast to support its own weight.

Time to complete crop failure with lunar lighting: 3 weeks.


Although this experiment was a complete failure, it demonstrates that growing plant life on the 28-day lunar lighting cycle isn't immediately feasible with the above limited selecion of off-the-shelf seeds.

Some possibilities to continue this research include growing plants in a 10-day cycle, and picking the hardiest specimens from which seeds could be used, and repeating with the hardier seeds until a strain which can tolerate the lunar cycle has been bred. Another possibility is refrigeration of the plants in the night cycle. Also, choosing plants with more starch and food storage tissues, such as potatoes, may yield more promising results.

Life Support Systems

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