While there's no shortage of habitat designs out there for potential lunar or Martian missions, a team of Australian scientists seem to think theirs has what it takes to stand out, with it promising to be 90 to 95 percent self-sufficient. According to Cosmos Magazine, the habitat, dubbed Luna Gaia, employs a so-called "closed-loop life support system," which recycles "almost all material within the system" with minimal input from outside sources. Key to that is the Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative (or MELIiSSA), which uses microbes to purify water, recycle carbon dioxide and, yes, "derive edible material from waste products. " Apparently, that would allow the system to support a team of 12 astronauts for up to three years, with them relying on a largely vegetarian diet. While the system is still 20 or 30 years from becoming feasible, the researchers say it also has some potential applications here on Earth in the nearer term, including more sustainable farming techniques and improved recycling processes.

[Via Slashdot]