Growing on the moon. The premise is interesting: “Lunar soil as a source of fertilizer in case, as may happen in the future, humans want to do agriculture directly on Earth’s satellite,” writes on its website, which tells how a project by Esa Discovery, the European Space Agency, has the Norwegian company Solsys mining as its lead to study the opportunity to exploit lunar soil to obtain plant nutrients.
According to the European Space Agency, in fact, samples of regolith (the set of materials mainly consisting of stones and dust) from various missions and analyzed on Earth contain sufficient amounts of minerals essential for plants to grow. Writes the website of Gourmet Monthly, “In the presence of water, the regolith compacts and prevents the growth of plant roots. Therefore, one of the solutions, according to scientists, would be to grow using hydroponic techniques, which can do without the presence of soil, as nutrients are dissolved directly in water.” Hydroponics is in fact the cultivation of plants out of the soil, without soil and thanks to water, “in which suitable nutrients are dissolved to make plants grow fast.”
The Red Prawn reports that the system illustrated by Esa, which also involved the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (Ngi) and the Space Interdisciplinary Research Center (Ciris) in the project, relies on a combination of mechanical, chemical and biological processes and systems to extract the necessary nutrients from regolith. “The study is critical for future lunar exploration over the long term, with a view to achieving a sustainable presence on the Moon,” commented Malgorzata Holynska (Esa engineer), recalling how this work is a first step that paves the way for more in-depth research.