4.5 billion years ago our planet was formed, around 200,000 ago, us humans decided to get smart and started to roam around. We then got even smarter and understood, that instead of moving from one patch of land to another in search of food, we can put seeds in the ground and grow what we need.
Fast forward a little to around 600 BC and we are “civilized;” building fantastic structures and applying the first principles of hydroponics to the hanging gardens of Babylon. 1000 AD, the mighty Aztecs were floating gardens on the lake and 200 years later Marco Polo sighted the Chinese doing the same. Throughout our history, we have continuously developed traditional agricultural techniques and have especially innovated in hydroponics. Yep, we can pat ourselves on the back that we can grow like champions now. With soil and better yet hydroponic style without soil.
However, the pat on the back, unfortunately, goes hand in hand with the sobering realization that in the few seconds, we as human beings, have been around, we have managed to significantly ruin the planet and its natural resources which have been around 22,500 times longer than us. With already 7.8 billion of us “smart” human beings occupying this less than Blue Planet, it is time to jump ship and ruin another planet. Our world is not enough.
So what now? Well, we have our eyes set on the red planet, Mars. We clever human beings might just pull it off and land on a new planet and make it our own. We have the biological and agricultural know-how to terraform the Red Planet and make it a Blue Planet. Just like our Earth used to be. But all our growing expertise will have to be applied first on our journey to the Red Planet. Whether we travel with NASA, with Elon’s Space X or with another party, the challenges remain the same. Mars is a little further away than the moon. So the journey can take anywhere from half a year to a year. Travel, especially space travel, is all about speed…which is all about weight. So packing frozen food packs for an astronaut team who will travel at least 6 months, stay on mars for at least a couple of months and then travel back…is impossible. Unless we have warp or hyperdrives to propel us there with all that food weight.
Being able to grow our food allowed us to settle in the past and build civilization. Now that we have to leave our settlement to settle somewhere else, the solution to save weight may lie in growing on the way. Seeds weigh next to nothing, water is something that can be recycled (plus lots of it on Mars) and soil is too heavy to carry. These variables all point in one direction.
With a pocket full of seeds weighing a couple of grams, we may just have a chance to feed ourselves on the way, feed ourselves when we are there and eat on the way back. Experiments on the ISS have yielded positive results. So hydroponics may just help save the day for humanity and help us plant the seeds of destruction on the next planet.