I want a wheat farm on the moon

It may be that we can mine the moon for hydrogen and oxygen. And to make it even more interesting is that it appears it is a renewable source. The sun creates the water on the moon:

The moon’s top layer of crushed rock and soil may hold far more water than previously estimated, according to a new study.

Most of that water can trace its origin to protons streaming from the sun, the researchers show, confirming in samples of lunar soil a mechanism for making lunar water that until now largely had been the province of theoretical models.

Getting water could be useful. Getting rocket fuel would be awesome!

The moon has an abundance of solar energy to break the water and/or hydroxyl down into H + O which is a great rocket fuel. The moon could be more than just a staging area for exploring and/or mining the asteroids and/or other planets. It could be a source of supplies.

The next question I want answered, “Is there a plentiful source of nitrogen and carbon available?” These are needed for an earth like atmosphere and as plant nutrients.

If N and C (and a bunch of other nutrients in smaller quantities) are readily available then crops can be grown for food. Once we have wheat farms on the moon we are snuggling distance from The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

11 thoughts on “I want a wheat farm on the moon

  1. ‘Is there a plentiful source of nitrogen and carbon available?’

    You might have to ship that in from Mars.

  2. The article mentions the detection of ammonia and methane as well as the water. If those are available in the right quantity, they could supply the Nitrogen and Carbon. There may be deposits of those elements from Carbonaceous Chondrite impacts and they probably exist as at least trace elements in many moon rocks. Unfortunately, most of the weathering and re-deposition processes that sometimes concentrate those elements on earth do not apply on the moon.

  3. Once we have wheat farms on the moon we are snuggling distance from The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

    Which could be good or bad, depending on which side of the gravity well you are on.

  4. Word is the radiation will kill you, and in that case it would not be good for the wheat. So you may have to dig down and pipe sunlight in. And; wheat? I think you mean barley – it makes better beer.

  5. @Lyle, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress had wheat farming on the moon. That was the important connection. Of course if wheat can be grown then many other crops could, and would, be grown as well. The radiation is a solvable problem.

    @Phssthpok, As a (former) farmer, a software/hardware engineer, and Heinlein fan I plan on being at the top of the gravity well and helping Mike.

  6. I suspect that the number of engineer types that would arrange to be at the top of the gravity well does not bode well for the people at the bottom.

    Unless of course they leave us alone.

  7. Would the moon have sufficient gravity to hold an atmosphere? And, I know that solar wind could be a helluva problem, as it strips away atmosphere not protected by such as earth’s Van Allen Belt.

    Then, presuming an atmosphere in place, wouldn’t that block the very protons that drive the processes as stated in the article?

    I’m not being Eeyore here, just wondering about some of the basics I’d learned as a wee lad.

    Jim
    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  8. @Jim, I’m nearly certain the answer is no. A structure of some sort would be required to retain an atmosphere. The proton driven process would probably have to be in areas of the moon not covered by man made solar collection devices.

    I haven’t done the design analysis but my first idea to look at would be building caverns to live in and grow the crops. On top would be solar collection devices. These probably would be to power turbines for generating electricity. Although it could be that direct conversion to electricity is more economical by that time. The electricity would supply power for the grow lights in the caverns, making rocket fuel, and human needs.

  9. Why grow lights? How about piping in sunlight? I suspect you could use a mirror farm to concentrate it into a portal, and then a redistribution mirror system to cover the internal farm. Maybe lights as a secondary/backup system? It’s very late, I suspect I’ve overlooked something…

  10. @Will, I haven’t really investigated or thought much about the methods to get the light from the surface to the interior. You may be correct that it can be “piped” in with mirrors and windows.

    But “concentrating” the light probably will not work as well as you think. There doesn’t have to be much concentration before a smudge on a mirror/window represents a reflection/transmission loss that heats up. This heating will result in the burning of many things such as an smudge of oil off of a finger or an insect (or the droppings from an insect). The smoke condenses on the mirror/window surface increasing the losses over an even wider area. This hot spot can cause warping and/or breaking of the mirror/window.

    These are problems that I’m sure lots of people have already investigated and probably solved. It will probably mostly be a matter of doing the analysis to determine which method has the best trade-offs in terms of initial cost, maintenance, operating cost, safety, etc.

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