CLOVER: Capillary Low-Gravity Groundcover
Our 2023 Phase I concept centered around the use of modified clover plants to harvest water out of the air, enabling large-scale lunar lava tube agriculture. Clover could provide water to other crops, such as cucumber, tomato, lettuce, strawberry, potato, and soybean. Each morning, the humidity in the lava tube could be modified to force a heavy dew, allowing the clover to pump the collected water into the soil using capillary action.
Clover is a highly-evolved plant species with specific valuable traits, many of which benefit other plants and animals. However, our desire is to use it as a mechanical device for harvesting water from the air while retaining key traits which make it friendly and valuable. It may be possible that this fusion of natural mechanisms and engineering presents a path towards sustainable, large-scale, low-infrastructure agriculture in low-gravity environments.
Ultimately, the concept was not selected. We have chosen to release our proposal details to the public with the hopes that it may inspire others to create their own version of the concept, or to simply provide an example of the approach we chose for this NIAC concept. It was extremely difficult to convey the idea in three pages, so hopefully our struggle can offer some insight about how to concisely describe your own concept.