Heinlein and "Harsh Mistress" news item

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Michael Dworetsky

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May 13, 2022, 4:31:00 AMMay 13
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This morning the London Times features a front-page article about how
moon dust from Apollo missions is being studied to see if plants can be
grown in lunar soil. "Researchers at the University of Florida spent 11
years asking to borrow lunar dust brought back by Nasa crews....
Scientists were lent 12g--a few teaspoons' full."

They filled thimble-sized wells with a gram of moon dust, adding water
and a solution of nitrogen, potassium, sodium and other nutrients. They
planted seeds of a weed, Arabidopsis thaliana (mouse-ear cress) and
shoots emerged with green leaves.

One scientist not involved in the research, said: "You can imagine
trying to grow plants on the surface with a biodome over them, shining
light, adding nutrients and pouring water on."

All very well, I say, but is there enough N, K, Na, etc in lunar soil to
do this without importing these elements from Earth? To some extent,of
course, these could be obtained from astronauts' excretions, but this
seems not to be a way to do mass agriculture. Then again Manny Davis
gave a press conference asking Earth to send sewerage water to Luna,
asking for it not to be processed.

The real problem seems to be carbon and nitrogen, as there is sodium,
potassium, and phosphorus in lunar regolith. And a lot of oxygen in
various minerals. But very little if any nitrogen.

--
Mike Dworetsky

Scott Lurndal

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May 13, 2022, 11:38:26 AMMay 13
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Michael Dworetsky <plati...@btinternet.com> writes:
>This morning the London Times features a front-page article about how
>moon dust from Apollo missions is being studied to see if plants can be
>grown in lunar soil. "Researchers at the University of Florida spent 11
>years asking to borrow lunar dust brought back by Nasa crews....
>Scientists were lent 12g--a few teaspoons' full."
>
>They filled thimble-sized wells with a gram of moon dust, adding water
>and a solution of nitrogen, potassium, sodium and other nutrients. They
>planted seeds of a weed, Arabidopsis thaliana (mouse-ear cress) and
>shoots emerged with green leaves.

IIRC, the article noted that while it did, indeed grow,
it grew poorly.

pyotr filipivich

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May 13, 2022, 3:06:56 PMMay 13
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Michael Dworetsky <plati...@btinternet.com> on Fri, 13 May 2022
09:30:54 +0100 typed in rec.arts.sf.written the following:
The real, un addressed issue remains: grow lights. While it might
be possible to turn regolith into soil, earth plants are adapted to a
24 hour diurnal cycle, not a 336 hour cycle (okay, more like 354,
but...)
Solar panels are a groovy idea, but again, half the time they are
offline. (PowerSats might work, but that is more engineering (I.e.,
$$$).
--
pyotr filipivich
This Week's Panel: Us & Them - Eliminating Them.
Next Month's Panel: Having eliminated the old Them(tm)
Selecting who insufficiently Woke(tm) as to serve as the new Them(tm)

Michael Dworetsky

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May 14, 2022, 4:15:51 AMMay 14
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I am not all that worried about adaptations to 24-hour cycles. Someone
mentioned indoor cannabis farms, which leave the lights on all the time
(and in one case not far from us in outer London they managed to burn
down a whole row of houses, because the illegal electricity
installations caught fire and it spread rapidly to several innocent
neighbours).

In any case, the place to put your solar panels is on the rim of a large
crater near the lunar south pole, which is in sunlight continuously on
one side or the other. And if not located there, then batteries could
be made, or maybe even giant capacitors (in the lunar vacuum this would
be easy, but be careful not to touch).

--
Mike Dworetsky
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