Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Flowerbed on the Moon

A scientist proposes tulips, ornamental shrubs, and mustard to begin a lunar ecosystem.

Preparing the moon for “life communities” will probably begin with a Human Flower Project.

Bernard Foing, Chief Scientist at the European Space Agency and a moon-mapper, writes for Astrobiology Magazine about plans now in the works to create a lunar biosphere. “What is more beautiful in terms of life communities than a flower?” he asks.

“A flower is not a single system. A flower is a host to a series of organisms. So it is just like a microorganism biosphere that you could bring to another planet. And also, symbolically, pictorially, a flower has a strong meaning.”

In other words, planting flowers in a lunar life-experiment would be good science and great PR.

Foing and friends are already tinkering with a mini-cam that could frame the flower against an impressive, but familiar, backdrop. “I want to see, day after day, this flower grow. We could set up the camera to show Earth in the background, showing in three dimensions how we are bringing life from Earth to another planet.”

I suppose it took an astro-scientist from the Netherlands to think in such terms; and naturally a Dutchman would be pushing for tulips on the moon. “We have to start with a plant that can survive the trip. Because I live in Holland, and I cross the tulip fields on my way to work, I thought tulips could be a nice example. You can freeze a bulb. You can sterilize it. You can transfer it to the Moon and then, with sufficient water, some heat, and an artificial CO2 atmosphere, you could see the flower grow.”


Old timey Earth flowers with full moon

Photo: Hazily Remembered Realms

Foing also is considering ornamentals “to help provide psychological comfort to the astronauts” and Arabidopsis, a tough, fast-growing mustard that’s botany’s lab rat.

May I point out that Central Texas, with its limey soil and white heat, becomes lunar every summer.  Foing tells us, “The Moon has no atmosphere, but the soil is rich in minerals.” Just like Texas.

So we nominate wisteria and prickly pear cactus as floral astronauts, and bluebonnets. Though we’ve never handled it, moon dust looks just gritty enough for scarifying bluebonnet seed.

Posted by Julie on 06/27 at 02:59 PM