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#1 2007-01-12 10:35:42

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 14,623

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

On the journey to mars we will need lots of consumables that neededly not be just thrown away. This will also be a problem while we stay on the surface in that we must make use of everything that we bring lots of times. Water is just one of those items.

Most likely we will be using some sort of waste recovery system as on the iss to get oxygen to suppliment what we bring not only on the journey but hopefully once we land as well.

Colony sized recovery system slide show at Mars Homestead.

As noted a waste recovery system for the reclaimation of this for later use is a task with big payoff. The Mars ships have travelled for 9 months with consumable provisions that if sqandered away to the void of space is a net loss. The addiding to a first missions a holding barge lander as a simple means to keep for later utilization of these materials. The means to seperate each type of waste to holding area is the key in later use. Another key point to the lander is the ability to continue capturing these resources while on the Mars surface no matter how long the stay. You can think of this as the Home brought Insitu resources.

Depending on the steps used on the waste there are several avenues that we can use in reprocessing of it once on the surface.

One example is already in use on the ISS in the Elektron oxygen generator which makes use of the water from the waste and extra air to breath could not hurt for staying forever. A byproduct of the eletrolysis is hydrogen which is needed for making methane from the martian air. So this will help in the offsetting of water being available in large quantities as needing to be found on mars as well as being transported from earth for the process of making methane fuel.

Other uses for the Methane are in fuel cells which gives more power for continued expansion and use of tools requiring power. This would be the dirty use of water to clean in that we would capture the exhaust for recycling the water and take the carbon monoxide to another seperation stage to make more air and to leave carbon sut that can be used to make lots of other stuff. The clean water side of fuels cells are the hydrogen units for power. We would wish to collect the water as it comes out of the unit as well.

Now that I have downloaded the Powerpoint and started to look at it. I see that it is the developed colony on page 7 forward until page 12 finally begins talking about waste. I see that they are first targetting the organic side of waste to be used.

It is the scale of a colony level which shows that a lot of material to start the processes to build not only building but storage tanks must have come along for the ride. This to me is not the size of the first few flights.

Looking back to what needs to be brought before man can make this grand sceem is what needs to happen first. This is the disconnect that I see.

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#2 2007-01-12 11:46:47

GCNRevenger
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From: Earth
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Posts: 6,056

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

In the shorter term though, the added equipment mass, power demand, and risk of relying on a recycling system must be weighed against the simplicity and reliability of a open-loop systems.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#3 2007-01-12 12:04:50

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

In the shorter term though, the added equipment mass, power demand, and risk of relying on a recycling system must be weighed against the simplicity and reliability of a open-loop systems.

Do you envision a Mars base sitting next to a huge pile of garbage?

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#4 2007-01-12 12:19:38

GCNRevenger
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Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Be rational, don't try to apply morality to engineering. If it is more efficient to get rid of wastes instead of trying to recycle them, then that is what we should do. Simple.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#5 2007-01-12 12:25:28

Number04
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From: Calgary Alberta Canada
Registered: 2002-09-24
Posts: 162

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

our first missions should 100% be aimed at creating a sustainable habitat. A one off missions will get us the same place Apollo got us. Lots of fan fare for a few years then nothing.

I think we need allot more research like this and i for one am very happy to see it.

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#6 2007-01-12 13:12:48

GCNRevenger
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Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

100% sustainability isn't going to happen until we have an acre or so of farmland under glass for food supply. Everything else can be partially recycled, but 100% is not worth the trouble, since we already have plenty of carbon and oxygen. The only elements lacking are nitrogen and hydrogen, the former can be distilled from the atmosphere in small amounts, and the later from underground water when we have a permafrost extractor.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#7 2007-01-12 13:28:01

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 14,623

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

So how do we transition from a tuna can lander base, to making farm land under glass?

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#8 2007-01-12 13:54:39

GCNRevenger
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From: Earth
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Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

By not trying to force unrealistic, inefficient, irrational empty-headed "moral" environmentalism on early exploration and presence on Mars.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#9 2007-01-12 14:21:13

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
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Posts: 14,623

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

No one said "100% sustainability needs to force unrealistic, inefficient, irrational empty-headed "moral" environmentalism on early exploration and presence on Mars." nor can we even do it here on earth. Also an open loop system where constant resupply is also unrealistic because of cost as well.


atmospheric composition of Mars:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - 95.32%;
Nitrogen (N2) - 2.7%;
Argon (Ar) - 1.6%;

Oxygen (O2) - 0.13%;
Carbon Monoxide (CO) - 0.08% Minor (ppm):
Water (H2O) - 210;
Nitrogen Oxide (NO) - 100;
Hydrogen-Deuterium-Oxygen (HDO) - 0.85;


Neon (Ne) - 2.5;
Krypton (Kr) - 0.3);
Xenon (Xe) - 0.08.

Does anyone have a soil table?

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#10 2007-01-12 15:53:25

C M Edwards
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From: Lake Charles LA USA
Registered: 2002-04-29
Posts: 1,011

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Do you envision a Mars base sitting next to a huge pile of garbage?

Yes. 

Almost anything worth recycling will keep at -60C temperature, and all that's necessary to store it for centuries is a properly secured plastic cover.  If we like the location, equipment for 100% recycling can come later.  If we don't like the location, the trash midden will be the least valuable thing left behind.


"We go big, or we don't go."  - GCNRevenger

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#11 2007-01-13 01:59:08

Tom Kalbfus
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Posts: 4,401

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Do you envision a Mars base sitting next to a huge pile of garbage?

Yes. 

Almost anything worth recycling will keep at -60C temperature, and all that's necessary to store it for centuries is a properly secured plastic cover.  If we like the location, equipment for 100% recycling can come later.  If we don't like the location, the trash midden will be the least valuable thing left behind.

Then I have an interesting idea for a flush toliet. You flush the toilet and the human waist empties into a holding tank, then the valve between the toilet and the tank closes and the valve between the tank and the outside opens. The human waist gets sucked out and deposited onto the Martian soil right next to the hab. I suppose the urine either freezes or boils away, the solid waste would turn into a fine powder and all the liquids inside boiled away. Over time a sizable pile of human waste would accumulate right next to the hab, at least it wouldn't smell.

I wonder how much room two years worth of food would take compared to the facilities to grow new food? Seems to me that if they were serious about growing food, they'd need to bring along an agricultural specialist or two. Growing food is fairly labor intensive. You'd probably need a full time farmer to take care of the food needs. One person growing food is one less person exploring Mars.

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#12 2007-01-13 08:05:55

C M Edwards
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From: Lake Charles LA USA
Registered: 2002-04-29
Posts: 1,011

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Then I have an interesting idea for a flush toliet. You flush the toilet and the human waist empties into a holding tank, then the valve between the toilet and the tank closes and the valve between the tank and the outside opens. The human waist gets sucked out and deposited onto the Martian soil right next to the hab. I suppose the urine either freezes or boils away, the solid waste would turn into a fine powder and all the liquids inside boiled away. Over time a sizable pile of human waste would accumulate right next to the hab, at least it wouldn't smell.

That scheme would not preserve the wastes for potential future recycling - you'd need to vent the holding tank/boiler at the top and skip the "deposited on the Martian soil" step.  But yes, that's the basic idea.  Store (not strew) the effluent nearby, and come back to it later if we decide we care.

I wonder how much room two years worth of food would take compared to the facilities to grow new food? Seems to me that if they were serious about growing food, they'd need to bring along an agricultural specialist or two. Growing food is fairly labor intensive. You'd probably need a full time farmer to take care of the food needs. One person growing food is one less person exploring Mars.

By my estimate, the equipment needed to grow food for a crew of six would take about as much mass as a second hab.  It should be sent seperately, and preferrably wait until well into the first mission.  And its setup and operation will take more than  one person's man-hours of work per day - it should be spread between two or more people.

If you're just scouting, it's best to leave the greenhouse on Earth.


"We go big, or we don't go."  - GCNRevenger

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#13 2007-01-13 08:10:38

GCNRevenger
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From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Sending supplies from Earth many not be anywhere near as expensive as you think; when we have a reusable lander, fueled exclusively by Martian fuel, that saves unmanned payload modules from needing landing gear, parachutes, landing engines, etc.

A single Ares-I could launch a payload module, just a pressurized can with a navigation bus and an aerobrake shield, to Mars orbit for pickup by the RLV. Such a payload module could accommodate masses from at least five to as much as ten metric tonnes, in one throw by a relatively inexpensive rocket.

A big tank of Ammonia for nitrogen, food/clothing/spares, a brand new long-range rover, a 100kW class nuclear reactor, a new ISRU plant, maybe even a small inflatable habitat/greenhouse/workshop. Then later on, when Ares-I rockets start becoming too expensive, we transition to a 20MT class RLV on the Earth end too.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#14 2007-01-13 11:44:03

RobS
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From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
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Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

The powerpoint is very interesting, but how much power does this system take? It looks like two opaque greenhouses have 440 square meters. If the plants there are supplied by grow lights, I suspect that means a power demand of about 400 kilowatts (maybe half that if one greehouses is illumined when the other one is in a nighttime condition). That's a lot of power for recycling! And in duststorm season, the transparent greenhouse would have a pretty low productivity, so you'd have to light it a well or cut food and water production in half.

As for saving waste until the system is up and running, most of it is water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen, and they should be pretty cheap to obtain. It'd be cheaper to haul a dozen kilos of "miracle grow" (I suppose they'll spend a hundred million dollars to refine the formula for Mars) and throw away a lot of the waste.

               -- RobS

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#15 2007-01-13 13:45:23

Tom Kalbfus
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Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Then I have an interesting idea for a flush toliet. You flush the toilet and the human waist empties into a holding tank, then the valve between the toilet and the tank closes and the valve between the tank and the outside opens. The human waist gets sucked out and deposited onto the Martian soil right next to the hab. I suppose the urine either freezes or boils away, the solid waste would turn into a fine powder and all the liquids inside boiled away. Over time a sizable pile of human waste would accumulate right next to the hab, at least it wouldn't smell.

That scheme would not preserve the wastes for potential future recycling - you'd need to vent the holding tank/boiler at the top and skip the "deposited on the Martian soil" step.  But yes, that's the basic idea.  Store (not strew) the effluent nearby, and come back to it later if we decide we care.

I wonder how much room two years worth of food would take compared to the facilities to grow new food? Seems to me that if they were serious about growing food, they'd need to bring along an agricultural specialist or two. Growing food is fairly labor intensive. You'd probably need a full time farmer to take care of the food needs. One person growing food is one less person exploring Mars.

By my estimate, the equipment needed to grow food for a crew of six would take about as much mass as a second hab.  It should be sent seperately, and preferrably wait until well into the first mission.  And its setup and operation will take more than  one person's man-hours of work per day - it should be spread between two or more people.

If you're just scouting, it's best to leave the greenhouse on Earth.

It would seem sensible then to have one base that all missions keep on returning to. A preferible location might be at the mouth of the Vallis Marinaris. Water flowed here, there may be some frozen water underground. So the sensible thing would be to drill down until ice is hit, and then apply heat to melt the ice. Recover the vapors at the ambient air pressure and then condense it under pressure into pure water for drinking purposes, fuel production, rehydrating food supplies, and agriculture. A dedicated greenhouse would be added and some personell to grow the food, later on another hab might be added for raising chickens.

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#16 2007-01-13 20:34:15

TwinBeam
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From: Chandler, AZ
Registered: 2004-01-14
Posts: 144

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Maybe it's a mistake to try to base a Mars colony's food production on plants and greenhouses, at least to start.   

In essence you need a means to convert energy to edible food.  So it might make more sense to chemically produce simple sugars and starchs.   Feed those to fish, chickens, rabbits - and of course humans.   

I won't try to guess whether this is more energy efficient - but it's likely to be more reliable and easy to repair than any plant-based conversion system.

As far as recycling - I'd think recycling the water might make sense, if you're not located close to an abundant source - relatively easy to accomplish.

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#17 2007-01-14 03:19:17

RobS
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From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
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Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Unfortunately, even fish need more than sugar and starch; there are proteins, vitamins, and all sorts of other nutrients they need. Synthesizing all or most of those things is probably too complicated.

                    -- RobS

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#18 2007-01-14 14:16:51

TwinBeam
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From: Chandler, AZ
Registered: 2004-01-14
Posts: 144

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

OK - so use bacteria and/or fungus, fed on animal/human waste (to extract the vitamins) with sugar or starch added to put energy into the loop.   

Bacteria would produce protein and extract vitamins from the waste.   Build a short food-chain on top of the bacteria - probably aquatic - it seems fairly certain the colonists could acquire sufficient water if they are near the poles.

Mushrooms could grow quickly and compactly in stacked trays, for direct human consumption, or to feed small animals.

And of course, you could have a small hydroponics system to provide some greens for the colonists' diet.   You'd certainly want to be experimenting with growing plants for the longer term anyhow.   Just don't make the lives of the colonists depend on it.

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#19 2007-01-15 08:44:02

C M Edwards
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From: Lake Charles LA USA
Registered: 2002-04-29
Posts: 1,011

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

OK - so use bacteria and/or fungus, fed on animal/human waste (to extract the vitamins) with sugar or starch added to put energy into the loop.

That's a lot of R&D, TwinBeam.  I don't know if it would be worth it, and we shouldn't rely on it.  There is no gaurantee at this point that bacteria and fungi can meet the nutritional needs of the crew.

Plants can do the job of producing vitamins and nutrients for the crew.  It takes more fuel to get it there, and more maintenance once it's there, but agricultural production from plants is so much better understood at this point than bacterial/fungal agriculture that I would hesitate to rely on alternatives.

And of course, you could have a small hydroponics system to provide some greens for the colonists' diet.   You'd certainly want to be experimenting with growing plants for the longer term anyhow.   Just don't make the lives of the colonists depend on it.

True.  It's going to take a lot of labor and time to get a large greenhouse up and running, with a lot of possibility for errors in a strange environment.  I'm guessing at least two to three years until it can be relied on, with at least one failed crop to show for it.  Don't expect sufficient yield for the first crop, failed or not.  Nobody will be living off of the greenhouse output for at least the first six months.


"We go big, or we don't go."  - GCNRevenger

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#20 2007-01-15 10:43:36

Tom Kalbfus
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Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Maybe it's a mistake to try to base a Mars colony's food production on plants and greenhouses, at least to start.   

In essence you need a means to convert energy to edible food.  So it might make more sense to chemically produce simple sugars and starchs.   Feed those to fish, chickens, rabbits - and of course humans.   

I won't try to guess whether this is more energy efficient - but it's likely to be more reliable and easy to repair than any plant-based conversion system.

As far as recycling - I'd think recycling the water might make sense, if you're not located close to an abundant source - relatively easy to accomplish.

Why? 2 years is an awful lot of groceries. When is the last time you bought two years worth of food? You know what they say, "better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish." Does it make any more sense to store 2 years worth of food than to store 2 years worth of oxygen and water? If the if the Earth return vehicle fails, then the crew stands a chance to survive until the next rescue mission if they grow their own food, but if they eat stored food they're dead!

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#21 2007-01-15 10:58:17

GCNRevenger
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Posts: 6,056

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

I think you've been watching Disney's Mars "2001-wannabe" movie too many times

Carrying two full missions worth of supplies will easily weigh less than a greenhouse and the ancillary equipment. Plus the ISRU plant can produce unlimited Oxygen.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#22 2007-01-15 13:29:26

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 14,623

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

Maybe it's a mistake to try to base a Mars colony's food production on plants and greenhouses, at least to start.   

In essence you need a means to convert energy to edible food.  So it might make more sense to chemically produce simple sugars and starchs.   Feed those to fish, chickens, rabbits - and of course humans.   

I won't try to guess whether this is more energy efficient - but it's likely to be more reliable and easy to repair than any plant-based conversion system.

As far as recycling - I'd think recycling the water might make sense, if you're not located close to an abundant source - relatively easy to accomplish.

Why? 2 years is an awful lot of groceries. When is the last time you bought two years worth of food? You know what they say, "better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish." Does it make any more sense to store 2 years worth of food than to store 2 years worth of oxygen and water? If the if the Earth return vehicle fails, then the crew stands a chance to survive until the next rescue mission if they grow their own food, but if they eat stored food they're dead!

yes it is "an awful lot of groceries" for a permanent manned base once we start to colonize mars. So how we get them are being discussed in
unmanned orion block use for cargo to Mars


While I hope that we will discuss the growth cycles of crops and there types that we would hope could be grown in Mars first crew greenhouse

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#23 2007-01-16 02:42:35

TwinBeam
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From: Chandler, AZ
Registered: 2004-01-14
Posts: 144

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

There is no gaurantee at this point that bacteria and fungi can meet the nutritional needs of the crew.

I can see how you would take my post to mean that, but to get an accurate picture of what I was proposing, you need to take the "bacteria and fungi" post in the context of my previous post.  I.e. the bacteria would be the fast-reproducing base of a short food chain, providing protein and other essentials to the humans at the top, but having other animals in between.  Shellfish, worms, snails, protozoa, etc could eat bacteria as well as sugar/starch.  Probably there'd be another layer of animals that eat those - and humans could graze on any of them that can be made palatable.

No doubt the first colonists would not want ONLY locally produced foods - so they could bring a reasonable supply of food from Earth - but the idea would be to stretch that supply as far as possible, and not rely on it if that supply should fail, e.g. due to loss of a supply ship.

One goal would probably be to establish an automated bio-reactor prior to colonists arriving, analogous to the proposal to produce fuel for return rockets prior to arrival of explorers. 

And yes, eventually the colonists would want greenhouses - though I suspect it doesn't make sense to have clear domed greenhouses as some have mentined, when you're probably going to want to concentrate sunlight anyhow to achieve good growing conditions.  You may as well concentrate the sunlight with a mirror into light pipes leading through portholes into buried greenhouses, making it easier to retain heat, especially at night.

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#24 2007-01-17 10:23:00

Tom Kalbfus
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Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

I think you've been watching Disney's Mars "2001-wannabe" movie too many times

Carrying two full missions worth of supplies will easily weigh less than a greenhouse and the ancillary equipment. Plus the ISRU plant can produce unlimited Oxygen.

A living plant doesn't require as much maintenance as a mechanical plant for generating oxygen does. Somebody has to be on hand to repair the airplant whenever it breaks down and the necessary spare parts must be available to keep it in operation for the entire duration of the Mission, this has happened on the ISS and on the Mir. Spare parts and repair crews can't be flown to the Mars base as often as they can be to the ISS. Living Plants, on the other hand, continue to grow and produce oxygen so long as the right environment is provided for them.

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#25 2007-01-17 14:32:10

Grypd
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From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,847

Re: Mars Homesteads colony plan to recycle waste

There is also the fact that a development of Mars will eventually need us to use what we send to Mars better.

One of the prime scientific reasons for the first Mars landings is to develop the technologies that will be essential for a permanent presence.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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