Farming Fish on the Moon Could Feed Astronauts

The eggs of two fish species survived Russia's Soyuz spacecraft's launch conditions.
Derya Ozdemir
NASA's Moonbase Alpha for referenceNASA

Moon-tea, McMoon, and moon cakes might become the space favorites one day -- but figuring out what and how we will eat as we travel through interstellar space still remains an issue. In order to design self-sufficient future communities on Mars and Moon, scientists are working nonstop, and now, a new study suggests astronauts could grow fish on the Moon using eggs brought from Earth and water that’s available on the lunar surface.

After testing the eggs by replicating the launch of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the researchers were able to discover the eggs of two fish species-- European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and meagre (Argyrosomus regius) –- could survive being brought to the Moon, according to the study published in Springer.

Cyrille Przybyla, aquaculture researcher at the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea who led the study, wants to design a lunar fish farm. Przybyla said to Hakai Magazine, "I proposed the idea to send eggs, not fish, because eggs and embryos are very strong."

The team began the experiments by picking the two fish species based on factors such as modest oxygen requirements, low carbon dioxide output, and a short hatching time. First, the beakers containing the eggs were shaken using an orbital shaker. Then, they endured even stronger vibrations in a different machine that simulated the launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket since the researchers argued no spaceflight would ever cause shaking more than that.

For the seabass eggs, the success rate was 82 percent in the unshaken control samples. The experiment had 76 percent of the seabass eggs hatching. Meagre eggs performed even better with 95 percent of the shaken eggs hatching. This was more than those in the control group, which was 92 percent. 

The team claims that setting up the fish farm is a plausible possibility thanks to the transportation of such eggs. Astronauts generally eat freeze-dried products that are not exactly pleasant to eat, so this could provide them with "essential amino acids, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamin B12."

This fish farm would make use of the lunar water and supply residents of the future Moon Village set to be built by the European Space Agency (ESA) with fresh food. The study, the Lunar Hatch project, is one of the 300 years currently under evaluation by the ESA.

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