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Space Nerds: Growing on the Lunar Surface... or indoors... with Fiber Optics!

So, as @Theo knows, Bruce Bugbee is a really interesting researcher who has spent a significant portion of his life researching soilless media, lighting, and other non-conventional growing methods. This particular paper is interesting to me because I’m a space nerd. I love Kerbal Space Program and can’t help but go “Oooh” at any space games that pop up.

The basic idea is this: The moon is tidally locked to the Earth. Every 28 days is a moon-day. That means 14 Earth-days are spent in darkness, and 14 Earth-days are spent in light. This is terrible news for anybody who wants to build a farm on the moon. However, the interesting thing this paper notes is that if you store the crops in low temperatures (usually around 15C) with some light (5-10 PPF), they can actually survive and thrive despite these conditions – the only difference being that their growth takes longer.

[quote]“Tomatoes went into storage just as the plants were flowering and a PPF of 10 was
tremendously beneficial. Slightly reducing air temperature, along with a PPF of 10,
increased yield by a surprising 80% above the control plants. The tomato plants effectively
set fruit during the cold, dark period, and these fruits rapidly grew after full light was

Crop Production on the Lunar Surface Using Solar Fiber Optics- M.pdf (758.4 KB)

One interesting potential application of this research gives me an idea – If you have extra room in your grow operation, cycling some plants into a “dark” phase like the one in this experiment might produce up to 80% larger yields, if you’re willing to deal with it taking 50% longer.