Growing lettuce on the moon

Traditions from Earth and new traditions on the moon help the Sensoria M3 crew bond during their analog mission at the HI-SEAS habitat.

Dr. Michaela Musilova is the director of Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program, which conducts analog missions to the moon and Mars for scientific research at a habitat on the volcano Mauna Loa. Currently, she is in command of the two-week Sensoria M3 mission and contributed this report to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights

Commander's Report for the Sensoria M3 Mission at HI-SEAS 
During my travels around the world and beyond on analog space missions, I always continue this tradition with my friends, colleagues and crewmembers. Their faces full of surprise and delight are priceless. Other crewmembers chipped into this festive atmosphere as well. Vice Commander James Ward gave everyone a facemask with a NASA design, while Chief Science Officer Emily Seto gave us a Flipstik adhesive.

Emily brought multiple collaborative projects on this mission and Flipstik is one of them. She is trying to demonstrate the Flipstick product's adhesive properties on various surfaces around the habitat and outside in the lava terrain. It can be used to prop electronics (such as a phone) on surfaces, allowing the user to conduct other hands-on activities in the laboratory or during fieldwork. 

Another technology demonstration that we're performing during this Sensoria M3 mission is the testing of the Lettuce Grow hydroponics system. Our primary diet in this analog lunar environment consists of processed and freeze-dried foods. To expand our current selection of foods, Emily initiated a continuous collaboration with Lettuce Grow.

They are providing a self-sustaining hydroponics system with indoor LED grow lights that will support the growth of fresh greens, such as "Astro" arugula and "Encore" baby lettuce mix during missions. It has been interesting to observe the growth and persistence of the plants considering the temperature and humidity fluctuations in the habitat. The results of this study may even provide implications for the selection of vegetables and herbs for future space missions.  

Read more at Space.com (Michaela Musilova)


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