Cultivating an Outer Space Ecology

Introducing the On-Orbit Gardener

November 21, 2016

Melanie Ford

Part of a series commissioned in 2009 by NASA for an exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center, the “Farmers Wanted” poster above is only one of many advertising for humanity’s resettlement on Mars. The series, Mars Explorers Wanted, includes other posters with text such as “We Need You”—an astronautical replica of Uncle Sam and the infamous army recruitment poster—and advertisements for Mars teachers, technicians, and explorers. Although depicted as archetypes of Space Western sci-fi, these posters are no longer far from reality. Since the 1960s NASA, the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos State Corporation), and the ESA (European Space Agency) have been developing tools and methods to take humanity’s endeavors deeper into the unknowns of outer space and for longer, possibly permanent, periods of time. An integral part of this increasingly global, or even interplanetary, mission is not only designing equipment able to withstand the speculated conditions of outer space environments but also designing environments and ecologies to sustain those who venture above.

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