Newt Gingrich would be so proud. NASA is planning to put a garden on the moon by late 2015. You may remember a couple of years ago, when Newt was yet again running for president of the United States, and ruler of the known Solar System, as part of his platform he wanted to put a colony on the moon by 2020. The surprising thing was that not everyone laughed. Some people were angry. Most of us were confused. Where was Newt's plan to help us all here down on Earth? Maybe he had seen a preview of "Elysium." Maybe he knew that he wasn't going to win unless he got the lunar vote.
Well, now it's for real. At least it's for real in a gardening state. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration would like to drop a greenhouse on the moon. With a little bit of help. NASA got out of the manned spaceflight business a while ago, and so they are willing to hitch a ride with a sub-contractor who meets the stringent qualifications set by the company that first set foot on Tranquility Base. One of these private companies will carry the "LP-X" up into space and drop it where scientists can monitor the growth of lima beans in limited gravity. If it seems a little like practical jokes on lower life forms, you're not alone.
This particular project shouldn't be confused with the slightly new-age vision of a very earthbound bunch of foliage best experienced by the light of the moon. This is science. The kind that is best described in very nuanced terms: "This will be the first life-sciences experiment on another world." This will also be a great big chore for whoever has to travel the 238,900 miles to water the plants each week.