Microbes, Space Plants: Here's How Astronauts Will Be Fed on Moon, Mars

·2-min read

A new era of space exploration is upon us; one that will finally allow humans to set up colonies and habitations on off-world locations such as the Moon and Mars. Creating structures that can successfully house humans on Mars is one thing, but feeding such a population has its complications. Thankfully, the busiest minds are at work to address this gastronomical issue of astronomy. Below are some of the latest researches that have took place to solve the issue:

Growing plants in space: Plants have been grown in space since 1982, by the Salyut 7 space station crew. The International Space Station (ISS) has its vegetable germination system called Veggie. On January 14 this year, astronaut Mike Hopkins successfully used plant transplantation technique in the microgravity environment of the ISS to save two lettuce seeds that had weakened. This raised the possibility of growing plants in the weak gravity environments of the Moon and Mars.

Alien world challenges: NASA-funded scientists are trying to engineer plants that can thrive in the harsh climate of Mars and the Moon. These plants might require greenhouses to protect them from the alien elements, which are antithetical to life as we know it. The temperature ranges between night and day are extreme, the atmosphere is incredibly thin, allowing harmful solar radiation in, while the soils are lacking in essential nutrients to support the growth of plant life.

Microbes as the solution:The solution to the above-mentioned problem lies in microbes. Extremophiles, as the name suggests, are microscopic organisms that can thrive in environments with extremes of temperature and pressure. Genes from these microbes are added to the respective plants to allow them to withstand the Martian extremes.

Cruelty-free meat:When it comes to animal protein in space, clean meat is the way to go. On September 26, 2019, Israeli cultured meat startup Aleph Farms announced that astronauts aboard the ISS had successfully grown cell-cultured steaks.

These initiatives will get better in time. One can hope that by the time the first human lands on Mars or the Moon, they will have plenty of lunar and Martian eatables to fulfil their dietary needs.