Greenhouses for Space Farming?

One of the biggest areas of development in terms of technology is solar technology, which I have discussed at length in this blog. The rapid development of solar carports and other such hybrid technology has overshadowed a lot of other innovation in the field of portable shelters and other such products. I recently found a story that talks about the progress being made with portable greenhouses, which are very useful for the expansion of potential sources of food in undeveloped areas.

When I say undeveloped areas, I don’t mean unfarmed sections of the earth, but the vast potential of growing crops and other plant life on other planets and moons. According to an article in Popular Science, the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (in conjunction with private industry) is developing a lunar greenhouse that will show how hydroponic systems may one day be able to grow some crops on other planets. In true form, this lunar greenhouse is portable, simple to set up, but still incredibly advanced:

“The 18-foot, membrane-sheathed system collapses into a 4-foot wide disk for easy packing on an interplanetary mission. When extended, it is fitted with water-cooled lamps and seed packets prepped to sprout without soil. They hydroponic system needs little oversight, relying on automated systems and control algorithms to analyze data gathered by embedded sensors that optimize the controlled ecosystem. The whole system takes just ten minutes to set up and produces vegetables within a month.”

The initial design for this greenhouse came from the United States’ station at the South Pole in Antarctica, where the same type of greenhouse was being used to grow crops. This story shows the importance of portable, easy to set up greenhouses to everyone. Right now, you may be using one to grow fresh vegetables for tonight’s dinner, but in the future we may be setting these greenhouses on the Moon.