Green Moon, a project in Malaga to bring the Mediterranean diet to the moon

The Green Moon Project is a space agriculture initiative aimed at providing essential nutrients and food for future manned missions to various commercial or institutional space stations, as well as future human settlements that are planned to be located on the Moon or Mars.

A project promoted and directed by a young engineer from Malaga Jose Maria Ortega combines three main elements. The first is space technology; another planetary geology and a third plant biology. Each part of the project has a coordinator and the participation of various specialized corporations.

The idea came about as a result of a Lab2Moon competition sponsored by Team Indus, attended by José María Ortega with a prototype for taking seeds to the Moon and studying their germination in the lunar atmosphere. Out of 3,400 original proposals received for the competition, José María Ortega’s design was selected from 15 finalists.

Upon their return to Spain, they decided to take advantage of the prototype and develop and refine the original idea. This is where the Green Moon project comes from, which includes a multidisciplinary team and various companies that bring together specialized scientific knowledge.

Radish that sprouts best

Eva Sanchez Rodriguez The managing director of Innoplant, one of the collaborating organizations, is also the biological science project coordinator. Although the initiative originates in Malaga, this part takes place in Granada.

It is she who explains the main directions of the project, the purpose of which is to build greenhouses first on the surface of the Moon, and then on the surface of Mars, in order to provide food and nutrients necessary for future human settlements in space.

The engineering department is tasked with developing a capsule, a tubular space that functions as a greenhouse. The geological part was responsible for the study of favorable terrain for planting seeds and their germination. Here, they used lunar regolith brought to Earth by the Apollo 14 space mission. With this sample, the team found in the volcanic soil of the Canarian island of Lanzarote the soil most similar to regolith for growing fast-growing vegetables.

Already in the Innoplant laboratory in Granada, they carry out biological tests aimed at checking the seeds that grow best in this field. They tested with lettuce, spinach, peppers, carrots, various varieties of tomatoes or radishes, the latter, who knows, to the chagrin of the astronauts, germinate best.

“They are all small fruit and vegetable products with a fast growth cycle,” explains Eva Sanchez, who announces that she has also begun testing cereals such as corn or wheat. The intention, in addition to being able to feed astronauts with lunar greenhouse gardens, is to use the oxygen produced by plants to clean the air in space rooms.

The main challenges facing the team of biologists are to overcome the hostile atmospheric conditions of the Moon, especially with regard to radiation and temperatures, which on the Moon range from minus a hundred degrees at night and up to hundreds during the day. The problem of gravity, six times less than on Earth, affects but is not decisive for the progress of the project.

Granada-based Herogra Group is also collaborating in the field of biotechnology, looking for bacteria capable of fertilizing the substrate with biostimulants to do so in the most organic way.

expensive project

At the moment, about 250,000 euros will be allocated for the development of the Green Moon project. Although they had backing such as the IDEA agency or the Junta de Andalucía, the money available to promote them is not enough for a project requiring intensive capital.

Thus, the team has high hopes for a grant of more than 2.5 million euros from the SpaceTech competition organized by the European Union, for which they submitted their candidacy. In addition, they are open to private financial contributions.

The team is also in contact with a group of Chinese scientists who first sent the seed to the moon, who explained their test. The initiative culminated in the signing of a cooperation agreement with the China Space Research Center. They also exchanged knowledge with an Australian company on a similar project.

He also plans to start publishing his test results in documentation and other scientific publications so that the Green Moon project will take its place in future space missions as a specialist in space agriculture.

to see it better

Another collaboration agreement was signed between the Green Moon Project and Malaga-based startup Freepik, a technology company specializing in the production and distribution of graphic and audiovisual content using the world’s most widely used image bank.

Freepik helped the Green Moon project describe their project with images to explain its goals, mission, and challenges. As noted Joaquin Cuenca, Freepik CEO Freepik’s mission is to help people express the power of their ideas, as we have done with this non-profit collaboration in which we want to support a very interesting technology initiative from Malaga. So we have taken this incredible project to images to help them communicate their ideas and make the great dream of growing off planet Earth come true.”

The Green Moon Project will come true or not, but what its supporters have no doubt is that within a decade, lunar greenhouses will become a reality, so science and technology will achieve this. made in spainbetter than better.

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