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"Tomatoes, Peas and Several Other Crops Grow Well in" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2019 8:56 p.m. PST

….Simulated Martian and Lunar Dirt

""A human settlement on Mars or the Moon is becoming more realistic. Several countries and private companies are preparing for this journey," said lead author Dr. Wieger Wamelink and colleagues.

"One of the major issues will be ensuring food availability and safety."…."
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Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Nov 2019 5:36 a.m. PST

This is a decent first step in the chain. For real resilience, you need to address a lot of the other harsh conditions since you would not want your food supply to be limited to growing in a fragile artificial indoor environment.

One of the most important (IMHO) down the road considerations (after atmosphere, radiation, blah, blah) is finding crops that can be easily and efficiently tended by the farmebots that will be there setting up before we arrive (along with the constructionbots and enivobots). We want the farmer bots not to need lots of maintenance from tending and harvesting. The goal is that the repairbots are grossly underemployed.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2019 9:27 a.m. PST

Silly study.

Looking into the study, they used Earth temperatures and sunlight, air pressure and humidity. They did not simulate the radiation on Mars. The only thing "Martian" was the soil.

Actually, the study only says they used "Mars regolith simulant JSC 1A", and a quick Google says that this stimulant does *not* include any perchlorate. I am not sure how perchlorate affects plants, but it's clear that perchlorate is absorbed by plants. So if it's in the soil it's in your food, and perchlorate is dangerous to humans. It's 0.6% of Martian soil.

So this study is fun and all, but all it tells us is that if you built a radiation-proof dome or underground space and filled it with Earth air (composition, pressure, humidity) and provided Earth-like sunlight you could grow inedible food. Or edible food, if you have a magic wand that will remove perchlorate from the Martian regolith or from the food.

Interestingly, one of the methods used on Earth to remove perchlorate from soil is plants.

As for the Earth-like sunlight, you can create that with LEDs of course. But since Mars is twice as far from the Sun as Earth solar panels receive 1/4 as much solar energy. I'm assuming whatever we use to shield our veggies from the radiation also blocks the weak sunlight. The best solar panels today are about 22% efficient, but let's say by the time we go to Mars we get that up to 25% to keep the math easy. The best LEDs are just under 50% efficient. That means that for each square meter of plant growing space you will need 32 square meters of solar panels. That's ignoring the dust, length of day, etc.

Using Earth years, a square meter produces about five pounds of food per year (optimistically, depending on the crop.). Solar panels last 20-30 years. So you ship 32 square meters of solar panels to Mars to produce 150 lbs of food? Solar panels on the general market weigh 10-20kg per square meter, but let's say the special ones we send to Mars weigh 1/4 of the low end, 5 lbs/square meter. So now we're talking 160lbs of solar panels to produce 150 lbs of food. I'm assuming we can use waste heat to keep the crops warm, so we won't need additional solar panels for that.

And that ignores whatever is involved in building the space where we can create these conditions, the weight of the farmbots, etc.

So someone proposed this experiment and someone paid for it and someone got paid to write about it, but it tells us something close to nothing.

If we want to go to Mars with a substantial population for a substantial period, we need a few things:

Nuclear power – solar power on Mars is not worth much (though it's doing a fine job for some of the rovers).

Algae that doesn't have perchlorate uptake that will sustain human life and which grows in freezing temperatures.

Robots that will go first and dig the tunnels we'll have to live in.

A way to preserve human health indefinitely in a low gravity environment.

A way to allow humans to survive perchlorate – chelation, genetic engineering, medication, whatever.

Ultimately, the question I want to ask is: why Mars? What does being on the surface of Mars offer us that is not available in space?

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2019 9:58 a.m. PST

I'm not going vegan if moving to the moon, come back to me, when they've proven you can graze cattle on the moon(and no buggaloes)

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian14 Nov 2019 3:48 p.m. PST

"What does being on the surface of Mars offer us that is not available in space"

A semblance of gravity

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2019 9:22 p.m. PST



Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Nov 2019 6:33 a.m. PST

"What does being on the surface of Mars offer us that is not available in space"

A semblance of gravity

As a start. Basically, a huge resource for resilience in many functional ways.

WRT gravity, I always expected we would be living in spinning cylinders, using centripetal force to compensate for the gravity difference. And in resilience terms, when you have to be outside that environment (maintenance shut down, failure, exploring, working the planet's surface, recreation, etc.), you still do have some gravity.

You can grow way more food and store way more oxygen than you need in what is a practically unlimited space compared to a space ship. Water too.

The best LEDs are just under 50% efficient. That means that for each square meter of plant growing space you will need 32 square meters of solar panels. That's ignoring the dust, length of day, etc.

Which is much easier to do on a planet than on a space ship.

The entire planet is a building material, so you don't have to bring as much stuff with you.

And so on …

Garand15 Nov 2019 11:59 a.m. PST

Ultimately a colony on Mars would help us to discover, & then solve, the many challenges of colonizing space. I imagine eventually we'll get those giant spinning cylindrical space habitats, with farmlands & living space on the interior walls. That's a very big engineering undertaking, especially at this juncture of space exploration. Mars however, is more do-able, & a good step towards that goal.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2019 1:10 p.m. PST



Mithmee15 Nov 2019 5:25 p.m. PST


Does not mean "Real".

How about you go to both places and put up some Green Houses and try this for real.

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