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Luna Gaia, a habitat designed by an international team of scientists, engineers and graduate students, provides up to a dozen astronauts with fresh vegetables, fish, spacious rooms and clean drinking water (albeit recycled from their own urine).
The group designed the self-sustaining habitat, which harvests solar energy and reuses all of its waste, while attending the summerlong Space Studies Program at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. Now, with interest in the moon accelerating thanks to NASA's focus and Google's new Lunar X Prize, Luna Gaia is proving to be more than just an academic exercise. In the past year, the team has presented the plan to several space programs, including NASA, which may incorporate ideas from Luna Gaia into its own lunar outpost, planned for sometime after 2020. "It's a really good stepping- stone toward designing an outpost on the moon," says William Marshall, a physicist at NASA's Ames Research Center.