Friday, January 1, 2010

I'm being followed by a moon salad; moon salad, moon salad

George Waters column for Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014:


NASA has announced plans to attempt to grow plants on the moon, and it is starting with turnips. When I was a kid, I would have been happy to hand mine over to NASA for a moon shot. Rather than orbiting Earth, my turnips tended to end up on the narrow ledge of wood underneath the dining room table.

I hope some day, if all goes well, NASA will expand their lunar ambitions to okra and rutabaga. Maybe Brussels sprouts. If we can send a man to the moon, we can certainly eradicate these scourges in our time.

Oh yeah. They are trying to GROW them. Well, to be fair, this is only experiment one, and they chose turnips, basil and cress as test subjects because, after polling astronauts about what they crave most after months in space, a T-bone did not even come up once.

So NASA is creating a little pod which will hold seeds in a nutrient sheath, and release water to them at the appropriate moment. The pod will then shoot a selfie after five days to determine if anything grew, and transmit the picture back to Earth.

Scientists are hoping for signs of "circumnutation" and "phototropism," but then again, aren't we all?

The trip is planned for late next year, and I look forward to the night when I can look up at the moon and know there is a tiny salad up there, and that humans have finally gone verifiably nuts.

True, growing mass quantities of produce on the moon would enable astronauts to live there without the need for constant resupply from Earth, freeing up the payload bays of incoming rockets for other crucial items, like DVDs of "Downton Abbey."

But I sort of wish instead of basil they would haul chia seeds to the moon, and the whole thing could be one giant chia head in space. Albert Einstein, say. Or Lincoln.

Of course, the conspiracy-theory part of me suspects that all this is just a cover for a very well-hidden pot farm, well out of reach of law enforcement. The truth is less entertaining. NASA is using a private space firm to deliver the seeds, a first step toward the eventual commercialization of the moon.

So it is possible that one day an astro-miner will drill amidst a field of corn as high as a Venutian's eye. That's one small step for man, one giant leap for titanium salesmen.


george@georgewaters.net

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