Farmers turn to space as the next frontier for agriculture

NASA is working with researchers in Melbourne to develop facilities and plants that can be grown on Mars and the moon. As space technology helps develop agriculture, the future of space exploration also depends on the advancements in agriculture.

Photo: NASA

According to Gaia Project Australia founder and chief executive Nadun Hennayaka, the group of farmers and researchers in Australia are working to improve food security with more sustainable practices. The group is crafting solutions to increase crop output with limited resources, the same concept needed for future space settlements. 

Hennayaka cited lettuce growing as an example. In traditional farming, each square meter can accommodate 15 to 25 heads of lettuce, but with their space-oriented system, the group already grows a minimum of 50 plants per square meter. 

Innovating methods and crops for space farming is an inspiring feat, according to Australian Research Council Centre director Matthew Gilliham. While the inventions are oriented toward space settlements, these will also help solve problems of food security on Earth. The on-demand, zero-waste, and high-efficiency innovations developed for space can also be used by communities here on Earth to help feed the growing human population. 

Initial studies on space farming are now being conducted by several institutions across the globe, in preparation for the expected colonization of the moon and arrival on Mars next decade. 


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