Let’s face it, there’s nothing like opening a fresh package of fish and chips, sprinkling on the salt and vinegar, and digging in. One of life’s pleasures.
But what if one of those pleasures was available to astronauts on the moon! Instead of those beastly freeze-dried things.
Actual healthy, fresh food, 384,400 km from Earth.
It may sound like a touch of sci-fi, but scientists are actually studying the possibility of fish farming at a future lunar base, Science Times reported.
Researchers in France are now testing different varieties of fish eggs that will be best to send beyond the Earth’s atmosphere for the future plan of creating a Lunar Village. So far, European seabass is in the lead.
Feeding the men and women who will be living on the Moon in the future is a challenge and a major key in the success of the mission.
It would be unsustainable in the future if they only eat freeze-dried products as they will lose important vitamins and minerals, like vitamins C, B12, and K, that they would need to survive on the lunar surface, Science Times reported.
According to Hakai Magazine, the researchers used 200 European seabass eggs in their experiment. These eggs were tightly sealed within a curved dish filled with seawater up to the brim.
The countdown then begins and the eggs are off into the sky.
The eggs suffer riotous shaking for two full minutes as the engines roared to life and then followed by eight minutes of shaking as the rocket continues to ascend to the heavens.
These eggs were on their way to the low Earth orbit with plans of sending them to the Moon.
But they did not actually leave the planet. This was just a simulation of what it would be like when the fish eggs are finally sent to space to the lunar fish farm where scientists would rear them, Science Times reported.
The researchers found that all the fish eggs survived the ordeal with 95% of them hatched compared to the control group with only 92% of the eggs hatched.
Their findings are crucial to the progress of the Lunar Hatch, a program that aims to enhance the self-sufficiency of future communities on the Moon and Mars.
This project is led by the French Institute of Research and Exploration of the Sea (IFREMER) and Montpellier University Space Centre (CSUM).
Cyrille Przybyla, an aquaculture researcher at the IFREMER, said he dreams of designing a lunar fish farm that uses the water on the Moon to help feed the residents of the future Moon Village that is set to be established by the European Space Agency (ESA).
“I proposed the idea to send eggs, not fish, because eggs and embryos are very strong,” said Przybyla.
He suspects that, having evolved to withstand the adversities of aquatic environments —where they might endure strong currents, waves, and collisions with hard surfaces — the fish eggs are naturally space-ready.
Besides the nutritional boon of moon-farmed fish fillets, Przybyla suggests there will be other benefits for astronauts who may one day find themselves rearing animals in space.
“From the psychological point of view, it’s better to have a reminder of Earth — you have a garden, you have a tank with fish,” he said.
The Lunar Hatch project is just one of around 300 ideas currently under evaluation by the ESA, and may or may not be selected for the final mission.
Luke Roberson, a researcher at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, agrees. Astronauts living on the International Space Station regularly spend time tending to and visiting the plants they grow on board, he told Smithsonian Magazine.
“Add to that a pet fish or pet invertebrate — it adds another level of psychological benefit. That makes it feel more human,” says Roberson.
Roberson also points out that seabass is an interesting choice because the species is tolerant to varying levels of salinity. That might make it easier to accommodate them despite the moon’s limited water.
And, he adds, the seabass could potentially be supplied with wastewater from other moon base systems that use water from the lunar environment to produce hydrogen-based rocket fuel.
Sources: Science Times, Hakai Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine