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Robotic Lunar Greenhouse

Self sustaining plants + gardening rover + a webcam
  [vote for,

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)

cowtamer, Feb 10 2011

NASA Salad Machine http://www.nasa.gov...ews/1990/90-082.txt
Actual NASA Report from 1990 [cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]

Hydroponic Gardening http://www.progress...ponicgardening.html
[cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]

More salad machine (article summary) http://papers.sae.org/901280
[cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]

Google Lunar X Prize http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/
Private missions to send a rover to the moon [cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]

Biosphere 2 http://www.b2science.org/
Earth-based experiment to contain a self-contained ecosystem [cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]

Purple Bananas on the Moon!! http://www.youtube....watch?v=dxYpsVyDp5g
My favorite crazy street musician sings about "Purple Bananas on the Moon" [cowtamer, Feb 10 2011]

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       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.
spidermother, Feb 10 2011

       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...
cowtamer, Feb 10 2011

       Seems the first step would be to make the dust more conducive to growth. Lunar lichens, then, as those decompose, regular plants.
ReBuildIt, Feb 28 2013

       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?
MisterQED, Feb 28 2013

       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.
MechE, Feb 28 2013

       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.
MisterQED, Mar 01 2013

       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.
bungston, Mar 01 2013

       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?
spidermother, Mar 07 2013


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