There have been several recent pieces of news highlighting aquaponics’ potential role in long-distance space travel!
In February, The Observer ran an article, “NASA’s mission to Mars could be fueled by fish”. The article details a NASA research team of multi-disciplinary scientists studying how to feed astronauts on long-distance voyages.
Dr. Roberson, a Senior Principal Investigator for Flight Research at NASA, stated: “The first challenge is recognizing which systems can be sustainable, operate in microgravity, and provide the nutrient content that will last around a two-year mission to Mars”.
One problem is the production of protein in space, which is why fish is an attractive option. Researchers note that: 1) Fish can be taken into space as fertilized eggs and then grown to full size on board; 2) herbivorous fish like tilapia efficiently produce protein and can eat the plant scraps from hydroponic systems that aren’t suitable for humans, and 3) aquatic mollusks like snails or mussels are an interesting option because they can simultaneously filter water.
Regarding the Terra-Mars Project, Dr. Mazur noted: “a system advanced enough to be on Mars will be able to grow food anywhere on Earth, with modifications. The ultimate goal is to have a system that can provide food security for any environment on Earth and thereby end the suffering that still occurs in some developing countries. Having the ambitious goal of developing a food production system for Mars should provide ample PR exposure which can then be leveraged to promote the project and help to carry it forward.”
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