Will there ever be space weed?
Scientists at NASA intend to find out, with the launch of a new horticulture mission in which they will attempt to germinate a variety seeds on the Moon.
Researchers will experiment with turnip, cress and basil seeds in an attempt to determine if the possibility exists for astronauts to establish interplanetary farms as a means for cultivating their own food supply while living on a lunar base.
NASA says that the seeds will be blasted into space in highly advanced contraption known as the Lunar Plant Growth Chamber, which contains a 10-day supply of oxygen that will allow the seeds to develop and grow for about five days.
The Space Salad mission is an extension of Moon Express, the first privately funded moon-landing project, which is scheduled to get underway in 2015. NASA says the mission will utilize basic elementary school science project-type principles of natural sunlight, water and filter paper packed with essential nutrients in their attempt to successfully grow plant life in space.
A recent statement from NASA suggests that learning how to grow plants on the Moon could provide scientists with a better understanding of how to create an environment for humans to live and work on the lunar surface.
“If we send plants and they thrive, then we probably can. Thriving plants are needed for life support -- food, air, water -- for colonists. And plants provide psychological comfort, as the popularity of the greenhouses in Antarctica and on the Space Station show.”
Preliminary experiments indicate that not only is it possible to nurture plant life in a low gravity environment, but plant roots also flourish in space similar to they way they do on Earth. There is speculation that the cultivation of plant life has more to do with the direction of light as opposed to gravitational pull.
While the surface of the Moon is not fit for sustaining plant life, scientists hope their latest mission will provide them with vital information to assist in developing future bio-dome projects.
The goal of the mission is to provide astronauts will the necessary tools to farm to their own food and who knows, eventually, maybe even a little space grass.
After all, weed is still legal in space…at least, for the time being.
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