Moon farming: SCK•CEN sends experiment into space
On 24 July 2019, SPACEX-18 rocket left the Kennedy Space Center (Florida) for the International Space Station. On board were some basaltic rock and bacteria from Earth, both part of an experiment investigating whether life would be possible on the Moon; since basalt is a dominant rock type on it.
SCK•CEN will be verifying whether “local” raw materials (e.g. moon rocks) can be used to support life in space. “Do bacteria stick to this type of moon rocks and do they then grow? Can they, under the influence of microgravity and cosmic radiation, extract the necessary nutrients from the moon rocks and transform these rocks into more ‘fertile’ land in a later stage? We could then use these nutrients as raw materials for food production, so-called ‘space farming’”, said SCK•CEN researcher Rob Van Houdt, who coordinates the project.
The experiment will orbited around the Earth for three weeks aboard the ISS and was carried out in cooperation with the UK Centre for Astrobiology, German Aerospace Center and Aarhus University.