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There are some missions to land private rovers on the moon. One such mission could be the sending of self-contained vegetable growing greenhouses to the moon. These could be similar to a NASA salad machine (see link) or be more dome shaped transparent (and transparency controlled) enclosures. (Perhaps
we'd also need solar panels and serious LED grow lights for the lunar "night")
If we wanted to get complicated, a rover could go around watering the plants, harvesting, re-planting, etc.
The idea is to
0) Stage a way of surviving up there before new people arrive for (hopefully) an eventual moon base
1) Find which plant varieties are hardy enough to survive the radiation, temperature differences, etc with minimal manipulation of the environment
2) Set up a self-sustaining greenhouse
3) Breed new lunar plant varieties that do better than current ones
4) Provide entertainment for the funders of the mission (the funding could be crowd-sourced)
NASA Salad Machine
Actual NASA Report from 1990 [cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]
[cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]
More salad machine (article summary)
[cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]
Google Lunar X Prize
Private missions to send a rover to the moon [cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]
Earth-based experiment to contain a self-contained ecosystem [cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]
Purple Bananas on the Moon!!
My favorite crazy street musician sings about "Purple Bananas on the Moon" [cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]
||I thought from the title that this would be a roaming greenhouse, staying in the light by moving around the moon. It would only have to travel at 4.627 m/s, or 16.657, km/h to do so.
||You know, that's even a cooler idea...but harvesting would be a pain :) Unless, of course, it's the "Terminator Lunar Colony" idea in the upper right hand corner...
||Seems the first step would be to make the dust more conducive to growth. Lunar lichens, then, as those decompose, regular plants.
||My first thought is, please drop one of these in my
backyard, but my second question is about fertilizer.
Where is this thing getting it from?
||You're probably better off burying your
"greenhouse" and lighting it artificially, with solar
panels on the surface providing power. Lunar
sunlight is going to be dangerously powerful for 14
days of the month, and absent for the remaining
14, which is a cycle plants won't like that much.
||Per the above notes, you're also going to have to
provide nutrient mixes and gases to keep the
plants going until your first crop decomposes and
you've got a sustainable cycle.
||The only way I can see this working is to place this at
one of the Moons poles in a crater and then use a
robotic mirror to adjust reflected light intensity.
That way you could direct extra sunlight onto
blackbody thermal storage devices or solar panels
based on need. You may also be able to avoid
reflecting some of the nastier EM waves onto the
plants. The other advantage is that that is where all
the water is.
||Probably better to do a mockup of this in someplace easier to reach. Like your yard. I think CO2 would be an issue. Plants get hungry you know.
||So, lichens are the first step to creating a pleasant climate on the moon? [Looks at moon] Shall I lichen thee to a summer's day?