In honour of the 'Outer Space Treaty' signed on 27th January 1967, this weeks blog post is going to be talking about the recent news “ China grows plants on the moon.”
Now let’s take a look at the various implications this may have to the lunar ecosystem and what it could mean to us a the human race, so I’m actively encouraging you to engage in this post and tell us what you think!
Since the dawn of time humans have been curious beings, thinking “ I wonder what would happen if…?” This has lead to some fantastic things being invented such as us drinking glorified leaf water with cow udder juice. Someone had to think of trying it and luckily for them, it had a great result. In other cases we’ve gone “what would happen if I introduced the Cane Toad to Australia to reduce our pest problem?” Oh yea, that one wasn’t so great. Although it did solve the pest problem, the Cane Toad also ate many other creatures that were not an issue, therefore causing much larger ecological destruction, oops.
This instance of growing plants on the moon, in theory, ought not to destroy the local biodiversity of the moon seeing as it's non existent in the first place, as we blieve... With this in mind, it should be celebrated that we can grow life on a previously lifeless surface. Where there is plant life growing, it gives us a hope of a planet B. These plants weren't grown directly on the moon surface but in earth's soil that was imported for the experiment and were watered from a small reservoir. However the scientists at NASA are working on making the two types of moon “soil” (regolith) arable. The Lunar highlands (lighter grey area on the moon) contain high levels of anorthosite which are good at storing water and the Mare area (darker grey zones) have high levels of the minerals that plants use to thrive - perfect right? Almost, these minerals as so fine that they can be toxic however NASA is working on filtering them out, so someday soon the perfect moon soil shall exist.
Fantastic! We can now grow plants on the moon but only during a lunar day where in the sun, temperatures can reach up to 200 degrees Celsius. But we can’t grow anything during a lunar night as temperatures dip below 170 degrees Celsius. Not overly conclusive to a good lifestyle for us humans on the moon. So if this became a reality would this be somewhere we could thrive as a species or where we would merely be surviving?
I also wish to question how the introduction of plants that could photosynthesise would change the moon's atmospheric composition? Evidently to begin with all this would take place in large darkened greenhouses meaning all these gases would be trapped inside. However, as humans would populate the area there would inevitably be waste produced and, without much faith in mankind, I believe it would end up becoming landfill as it does here on earth. Then how would this affect the atmosphere of the moon, as well as how would us taking over the moon affect its magnetic pull on earth? I’ve no idea, I’ve many questions that will remain unanswered for a long time, but I've a feeling that this is a not so great “what would happen if..?”
Not much good has ever come of introducing foreign species to new environments, especially if that foreign species is the Homo sapiens...
Let us know what you think. Is it a good idea to consider life on the moon, or a bad one?