What will you eat on the
moon, how will you travel?
Nov 8 (IANS) Can countries engaged in exploration and exploitation
of the moon introduce plant and animal life there? The issue
is back in focus as India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft
Chandrayaan-1 gets ready to drop a probe on to the moon's
Sreekumar, head of the space astronomy and instrumentation
division at the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO)
satellite centre, cautions: "While it is all right to
say we will grow food on the moon in a bubble, there is no
guarantee that plants and animals from Earth being grown in
such greenhouses will not escape outside the bubble."
to several science journals, ongoing food growing experiments
in the Canadian Arctic and Devon Island are focussed on providing
astronauts fresh food outside Earth and to see how to recycle
waste to provide oxygen and water. Researchers at Cornell
University have even chalked up a 10-day menu of vegetarian
meals for a spaceship crew of six.
"we need to consider what effect radiation will have
on this, what kind of mutations will happen to living organisms
from Earth on the moon," Sreekumar told IANS in an interview.
"These can be good or bad. We don't want a science fiction
situation out there."
settlement on the moon will depend on the ability not only
to grow food and breathable air but also to move around. NASA
unveiled a new moon rover Oct 26 that will allow astronauts
to travel up to 1,000 km without getting out. It will have
large transparent windows.
US is designing rovers that can be nuclear-powered. India
is not looking at that kind of design," said Sreekumar.
will have a proper rover, likely to be Russian-made, landing
on the moon.
astronauts have to handle another problem. "There is
a huge amount of dust that arises on the surface of the moon
and enters space suits," Sreekumar pointed out. "It
is very difficult to work in the dusty atmosphere."
first impact probe from Chandrayaan-1 will crash on to the
lunar surface, raising dust clouds which will be captured
by instruments and analysed to see what it is made of.
dust can be radioactive. The rovers that will finally have
to be used on the moon will have to be like walking airconditioned
and dust-proof houses, letting astronauts on the moon work
in a completely dust-free atmosphere."