Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Food in space

  1. Jul 22, 2011 #1
    Can we growing food in outer space?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2011 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Food can be grown http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroponics" [Broken] by astronauts but they have to take all the necessary nutrients with them. If they wanted to grow food on other bodies (asteroids, planets etc) they would have to have a way of mining and refining the necessary nutrients from the environment for the hydro-/aeroponic farm. We do not yet have the technology to do this, in addition the relevant chemicals may not even be present.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  4. Jul 26, 2011 #3
    I think the question should be formulated a little bit differently. Will we grow food in outer space some day or when living in space we'll use another way for feeding our bodies?
  5. Jul 26, 2011 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Another way aside from eating food? :uhh: PF has https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=414380" against overly speculative posts.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  6. Jul 26, 2011 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    You mean like people getting fed through a tube into their stomach, as if they were in a coma?

    Can you explain what you mean? Your post is too vague.
  7. Jul 26, 2011 #6

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    There are a few serious technical obstacles to growing food without gravity. The main one that I know of is that water does not stay in contact with the roots; the flow of water in a porous medium without gravity to drive the flow is almost totally driven by surface tension and diffusion. This results in the roots drying out as the local water is absorbed. Plants that use nitrogen-fixing bacteria have the additional problem of gas bubbles forming around the root.

    Then there is the matter of growing plants in a self-contained biome: the results of Biosphere 1 and 2 (potentially useful experiments) are telling.


    Also the amount of space and resources (light, heat, water, etc) required to grow and support sufficient crops is (currently) out of proportion to the benefit. Then there's the matter of pollination, use of pesticides/fungicides (it's hot and humid up there...), and what to do in case the crops fail.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook