It may sound bizarre and seem strange to consider raising animals on the moon in the near future, but French scientists have a plan to farm fish on the moon using live eggs brought from Earth, and water collected from the lunar surface.
Farming in space is not just a necessary step towards colonising other planets, but also to providing more affordable and fresh food for our astronauts in space. A recent article posted on Interesting Engineering says it is possible to start farming fish on the moon to feed our astronauts up in space.
Cyrille Przybyla, an aquaculture researcher at the institute that led the research, dreams of designing a lunar fish farm that uses water already on the moon to help feed residents of the future Moon Village set to be established by the European Space Agency.
Astronauts generally eat freeze-dried food products that are not exactly pleasant to eat, so having fish to eat could provide them with essential amino acids, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamin B12, along with being an actual appetising and fresh meal.
Fish eggs are ‘space ready‘
Fully grown fish would be difficult to transport to the moon, but fish eggs are apparently much easier to travel with.
The research, published in the International Aquaculture journal, presents the Lunar Hatch Program conducted by the scientists from the University of Montpellier’s Space Center and the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea.
The scientists packed the eggs of marine sea bass and scanty fish into devices that simulated the experience of being on a spacecraft, recreating the explosion of lift-off, and the vibrations and shocks that they would need to endure on the journey to the moon. As much as of 76% of sea bass eggs and 95% of the scanty eggs hatched.
“It was completely crazy,” Przybyla said in delight, as only scientists can when they’ve manage not to kill their experiments. “The environment was very hard for these eggs.”
The research team believes that aquatic organisms have evolved to withstand the adversities of water-based environments where they endure strong currents, waves and collisions with hard surfaces. This means that fish eggs are naturally space-ready.
Why sea bass and scanty fish?
Designing self-contained and self-supporting systems for food production beyond Earth will be crucial for future space exploration programs, and these two species of fish were sought out for their specific characteristics that might enable them to survive the lunar surface.
To begin their search for the perfect astro-fish to serve on the moon, the team of scientists whittled down a list of hundreds of species to just a handful with the following characteristics: those with modest oxygen requirements, low carbon dioxide output, a short hatching time, and a resistance to charged particles, since life forms are exposed to radiation during space travel.
Seabass is also an interesting choice because the species is tolerant to varying levels of salinity. That might make it easier to accommodate them despite the moon’s limited water. And the seabass could potentially be supplied with wastewater from other moon base systems.
Who would have thought that the farms of the future would be in space, and that within a few years we could have fish swimming around in dams on the lunar surface?