This Ambassador could be heading to the Moon

Ambassador José María Ortega-Hernández is determined to make it to the Moon. This past month, José María and his Green Moon Project teammates made it to the final round of TeamIndus’ Lab2Moon competition, which challenged students to devise a project that will ‘accelerate human evolution into a sustainable multi-planetary species.’ The winning projects will head to the moon with the TeamIndus Spacecraft scheduled for launch later this year.

José María and his team heard about the competition only 2 days before the deadline; within 24 hours, they developed and submitted their entry. Out of the 3,400 applicants, Green Moon, the only Spanish project, was selected as one of the 25 finalists.

As part of a rigorous development program, José María and the team will now have the guidance of a TeamIndus mentor who will ensure that Green Moon is meeting space grade experiment standards.

At the 2014 One Young World Summit in Dublin, José María, introduced by photographer and environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, spoke in the Sustainable Development Plenary Session where he presented his project, tuBICIenBUS (yourBIKEonBUS). The Project is aimed at reducing Spain’s carbon emissions with more collective and intermodal transport by adding external bike racks at the front of buses.

José María answered a couple of questions about his exciting venture.

What is Green Moon Project?

#GreenMoonProject seeks to make its small contribution to the concept of mutli planetary living through the experimental knowledge of how a seed germinates and grows under the effects of lunar gravity. It’s crucial to start experimentation so that at future lunar bases, astronauts can feed themselves with the food they plant on the surface, guaranteeing independence from the supplies that come from the Earth. It would be a breakthrough in the space age and human evolution; it feeds into the European Space Agency's "Moon Village" programme.  

How does it work?

The essence of Green Moon Project is to perform a seed germination experiment (assuming conditions are approximately equal to those of the Earth). The main differentiating factor is the terrestrial gravitational attraction (9.81 m / s ^ 2) versus the lunar gravitational attraction (1,622 m / s ^ 2).
Broadly, one would expect that stem growth was greater, or rather faster, on the lunar surface than on the Earth due to the fact that the force with which the Moon attracts the objects is just over one-sixth of the force the Earth's gravitational field attracts near-Earth objects.

What is your long term vision for the project?

The European Space Agency (ESA) has been working on the development of the concept "Moon Village" which seeks to install a human base on the Moon and act as an intermediate bridge for a future interplanetary trip to Mars. ESA’s concept can be extended to the whole planet. They seek to achieve cooperation from different countries in order to secure human bases on the Moon; the same cooperation was established when the International Space Station was constructed. Green Moon Project would provide important experimental and scientific evidence for the “Moon Village” concept as it would provide the first data on how plants germinate and grow in our nearby satellite. So far, no attempt has been made to experiment with this; this is why our project is important to ensuring ESA’s viability.

What sets you apart from the other finalists?

The aspect that is perhaps most striking and innovative is the experimentation process that seeks to realise which prototype will survive on the lunar surface. It is required to prove what would happen to the seed and its growth in different substrates. The substrates include Earth soil (3rd culture tube), a substrate taken directly from Moon surface (2nd tube), an equal mixing between both of them (1st tube) and the same substrate of the second (taken from Moon) enriched with essential nutrients which are missing on the Moon (4th tube).

For the lunar soil, we will use a lunar soil simulator (due to the engineering complexity that would entail extracting it from the Moon itself). The project is very innovative because of the way it will start. Instead of watering the soil with the seeds once it reaches the Moon, the gear system of our prototype will be activated and the trapdoor will reléase the seeds on land with the precise amount of moisture required. We can then begin collecting the data.

We have the support of many European universities, and have received advice from biologists, geologists, engineers and several companies whose work focuses on space. We are very grateful for this.

We are very pleased to have been selected by TeamIndus. We are passionate about our idea and are working day after day to defend it in the best way possible next month in Bangalore, India where the final judging will take place. I am very proud of my team; cooperation and collaboration have made this idea came to life and hopefully end up on the moon. It would be a great honour and bring us much joy to contribute to future human missions outside our planet.

Thank you very much to all.

The team was recently featured on the cover of Diario Sur, the leading news outlet in their hometown of Málaga, Spain.

Good luck to Green Moon Project!