PROTOTYPE OF A LUNAR GREENHOUSE ON DISPLAY AT MSI
Chicago (July 25, 2012)—Could humans find a way to live in space one day? Even though we first landed on the Moon in 1969, the idea of a Moon colony presents the issues of solar radiation, and lack of oxygen, power, sustenance and plentiful water. In the Museum's Lower Court west gallery space, marvel at the Lunar Greenhouse, a device that one day could help make a colony on the Moon possible. This exhibit is included in general admission and runs through Jan. 27, 2013.
The University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC), with the support of many organizations—particularly NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Science—led a team to create this prototype of a self-contained, automated environment, which has the potential to provide water, oxygen and one-half of the daily amount of food for one astronaut to survive. Approximately 18-by-7 feet, the cylindrical Lunar Greenhouse is full of plant life that grows using hydroponics (in nutrient-rich water, without soil) giving guests the opportunity to visualize first-hand how humans might be able to grow food on the Moon.
Within the gallery, a video shows how the futuristic contraption might land on the Moon in advance of astronauts and deploy automatically. Lunar robots would bury the greenhouse under the surface to protect it from harsh solar radiation. With the seeds already in place, engineers on Earth could remotely turn on lights and water, and within one month, the first lettuce crop could be ready to eat. Water to initially grow plants could come from frozen deposits found on the Moon and then later, once astronauts arrived on the Moon, from human urine. Water would be continually recycled for drinking, as well as crop production. The plants would clean the air, as well as the water, and supply the oxygen that astronauts need to breathe—a portable model of the bio-regenerative life support system that is on Earth.
The exhibit will also touch upon how greenhouse production works in very harsh conditions, like the South Pole, where resources are scarce. All closely contained and urban agriculture, especially as our planet’s population increases in cities, can benefit from the work and discoveries of the Lunar Greenhouse.
About the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI)
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI), one of the largest science museums in the world, offers world-class and uniquely interactive experiences that inspire inventive genius and foster curiosity. From groundbreaking and award-winning exhibits that can’t be found anywhere else, to hands-on opportunities that make you the scientist—a visit to MSI is where fun and learning mix. Through its Center for the Advancement of Science Education (CASE), the Museum offers a variety of student, teacher and family programs that make a difference in communities and contribute to MSI’s larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering. Come visit and find your inspiration! MSI is open 9:30–4 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Extended hours, until 5:30 p.m., are offered during peak periods. The Museum is grateful for the support of its donors and guests, who make its work possible. MSI is also supported in part by the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, visit msichicago.org or call (773) 684-1414 or (800) GO-TO-MSI outside of the Chicago area.
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- Prototype of Lunar Greenhouse
- In the west gallery, guests will marvel at the Lunar Greenhouse, a device that one day could help make a colony on the Moon possible. [J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry].
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