While plans to colonize and make Mars habitable are the latest talk, not the same attention is given to the Moon. On a first look, a plan to grow crops on the Moon may seem ridiculous and futile. After all, our natural satellite has no atmosphere and the nights last for two weeks.
Still, that doesn’t stop the European Space Agency and Russia from planning new trips to the Moon in order to establish bases there. However, it’s the planetary satellite’s poles which are the targets of the operations to come.
The main argument is the constant light that engulfs those parts. The poles are constantly under sunlight, with the exception of solar eclipses and an additional few days of the year. This gives the poles a steady temperature, making it possible to keep a greenhouse warm at a relative 68o F (or 20o C).
The relatively habitable conditions of the Moon’s poles come from the satellite’s almost perfectly vertical axis. This means that there are no seasons on the Moon, making it a less unpredictable environment.
The lack of any atmosphere also means that the vacuum would provide a good insulator for the constructions. The constructions would likely be domes, designed to resist the immense pressure from the Moon surface.
The easiest way to grow crops on the Moon would be within an isolated system of conveyer belts and aeroponics (the process of growing plants in air or mist). There is also strong evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface, likely brought there by way of comet collision.
Another approach would be growing crops in lunar caves, which like the poles, have a steady temperature. Two weeks of night time could prove problematic, but advances in LED technology could offer the crops all the light that they need.
One disadvantage of the Moon would be the planet’s very composition. While Martian ground has been proved able to eventually sustain growth, experimenting with plants grown in moon rocks has shown that the crops would easily accumulate toxic metals. The problem could be solved with the right composts.
Overall, Mars may seem more likely to support farming. Its days are approximately 24 hours long, and its atmosphere is rich in carbon dioxide on which plants could thrive. But the idea to grow crops on the Moon should not be overlooked. After all, it’s so much easier to get there, and establishing Moon bases could prove vital to the future of space exploration.
Image source: Wikipedia
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