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#1 2004-09-28 13:50:46

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Eat Like a Martian

Spuds galore!

*If you like taters (I do, I do!), this article is for you.  :laugh: 

"Ray has learned that a single human requires about 80 square metres (864 square feet) of soil to grow enough food to survive...

'We tried growing wheat, but we could have gotten several pounds of potatoes for an area that gave me just a cupful of wheat. I'm guessing that 4-5 chickens would eat the same amount as me. We might try fish, though.'

The only purpose of Mars Base Zero is to understand how much space is required, and which crops to grow to keep an astronaut well fed. If you could seal it up tight, and ship it to Mars, Ray figures that it would get enough sunlight on Mars to have the plants nearly growing as well as they do in Alaska."

--Cindy

::edit::  Check out reference to "Nauvik".  Also:  "It'll be an expensive proposition. Especially without government or NASA funding.  'We responded to a NASA request-for-proposal that was looking for unique ideas in closed system life support.' Ironically, the agency complained that their idea was 'too unique.'"  roll


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#2 2004-09-28 16:14:23

Commodore
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From: Upstate NY, USA
Registered: 2004-07-25
Posts: 1,021

Re: Eat Like a Martian

Why are they using soil?

Hydroponically grown plants grow faster and with less waste.


"Yes, I was going to give this astronaut selection my best shot, I was determined when the NASA proctologist looked up my ass, he would see pipes so dazzling he would ask the nurse to get his sunglasses."
---Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane

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#3 2004-09-28 16:27:50

John Creighton
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
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Re: Eat Like a Martian

"Ray has learned that a single human requires about 80 square metres (864 square feet) of soil to grow enough food to survive..."

That is because he only has one havest a year and eats several killograms of food a day. Larger yields must be possible. That is nearlly the area of a football field.

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#4 2004-09-28 16:39:02

Grypd
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From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,859

Re: Eat Like a Martian

If you create the right type of hydroponics you have a set up with 3 or 5 fields of plants growing in the same area leveled and rotating like a waterwheel and the water going through into a pool below that has fish in it. This is used to grow grass quickly but as it is power intensive is not in commen use as a means to provide food on Earth. The fish are from a study that I cant remember but that was there plan for providing fresh foodstuffs.


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

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#5 2004-09-28 16:39:54

BWhite
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From: Chicago, Illinois
Registered: 2004-06-16
Posts: 2,635

Re: Eat Like a Martian

Why are they using soil?

Hydroponically grown plants grow faster and with less waste.

Where does the hydroponic solution come from?


Give someone a sufficient why and they can endure just about any how

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#6 2004-09-28 17:14:40

Commodore
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From: Upstate NY, USA
Registered: 2004-07-25
Posts: 1,021

Re: Eat Like a Martian

Why are they using soil?

Hydroponically grown plants grow faster and with less waste.

Where does the hydroponic solution come from?

Water, found at least in some quanity on both the Moon and Mars, and numerous minerals that can probably be found in large quanities. Such as...

Macronutrients are required in large amounts
Carbon-Component of all organic compounds
Oxygen-supplied by air & water
Hydrogen     
Nitrogen-Part of chlorophyll, amino acids, proteins
Phosphorus-Used in photosynthesis and almost all aspects of growth
Potassium-Activates enzymes, used in formation of sugar and starch
Calcium-Used in cell growth and division, part of cell wall
Magnesium-Part of chlorophyll, activates enzymes
Sulfur-Part of amino acids and proteins

Micronutrients are required in trace amounts
Boron-Affects reproduction
Chlorine-Aids in root growth
Copper-Used in clorophyll, activates enzymes
Iron-Used in Photosynthesis
Manganese-Part of chlorophyll, activates enzymes
Sodium-Used for water movement
Zinc-Part of enzymes, used in auxins
Molybdenum-Used in nitrogen fixation
Nickel-Liberates Nitrogen
Cobalt-Fixates Nitrogen
Silicon-Makes tougher cell walls, enhances heat and drought tolerance

Whatever can't be found, can be brought along. And a lot of it can probably be recovered when the planets eventually die off, and from other... ahem... sources of waste.  :;):


"Yes, I was going to give this astronaut selection my best shot, I was determined when the NASA proctologist looked up my ass, he would see pipes so dazzling he would ask the nurse to get his sunglasses."
---Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane

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#7 2004-09-29 12:42:49

C M Edwards
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From: Lake Charles LA USA
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Posts: 1,011

Re: Eat Like a Martian

Go Ray!  An excellent example of amateur science in action.

Regarding hydroponics as being better than soil grown crops:

If all the nutrients you need for your crop are expected to be in the soil at Mars, it makes no sense to waste your effort extracting them when the plants can do all of that for you.  Hydropics has many qualities superior to soil gardening, but superior nutrient supply is not among them. 

Forget nutrients; bring humous.  Mix some organic matter into the soil and let the plants do the rest.


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

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#8 2004-09-29 17:46:48

RobS
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From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
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Re: Eat Like a Martian

Someone said this is the size of a football field. No, not that big. Eighty square meters is 9 meters by 9 meters, or 30 feet by 30 feet. This is smaller than many city apartments.

The number sounds right to me. I read an article about space colonies once that said the colony would need 50 square meters per person for agriculture. They assumed continuous sunlight 24 hours a day. So I figured Mars would need about 100 square meters per person with 12 hours of daily sunlight (this is the number I assume in my novel). There are other studies that show that with wheat (which he couldn't figure out how to use), hydroponics, and other advances, one could manage on about ten square meters.

Biosphere II, by the way, needed 200 square meters per person.

The amount of space has a lot to do with the crops you choose. Tomatoes are incredibly productive, as are potatoes. Beans also. But each species is very sensitive to conditions. For example, if it gets close to but stays above freezing at night in my vegetable garden, the cucumbers will be killed, but nothing else will die. Corn needs a lot of direct sunlight or it doesn't grow well. On the other hand, geraniums can be put in a dark basement with a few grow lights, and after a month or two they adjust and flower a lot. Take them back outside and the leaves all get sunburned and fall off, but the new leaves handle the sun fine. Strawberries need to have a relatively low temperature for their roots; the air can be 90 degrees, but if the roots are kept in the 60s and 70s the strawberries will bear fruit. This is why strawberries bear in the spring, and sometimes in the fall as well, but not in the summer.

Someday we'll put some of the geranium genes for low light in the corn and it'll do well, also. A decade or so of research on Mars, supplementing a lot of support research on Earth, could produce very efficient Martian farms.

             -- RobS

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#9 2004-09-29 17:54:11

BWhite
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From: Chicago, Illinois
Registered: 2004-06-16
Posts: 2,635

Re: Eat Like a Martian

Why are they using soil?

Hydroponically grown plants grow faster and with less waste.

Where does the hydroponic solution come from?

Water, found at least in some quanity on both the Moon and Mars, and numerous minerals that can probably be found in large quanities. Such as...

* * *

Whatever can't be found, can be brought along. And a lot of it can probably be recovered when the planets eventually die off, and from other... ahem... sources of waste.  :;):

Does anyone have experience making hydroponic solution from inorganic materials? What type of processing is needed?


Give someone a sufficient why and they can endure just about any how

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#10 2004-09-29 19:03:07

John Creighton
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
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Posts: 2,401
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Re: Eat Like a Martian

Someone said this is the size of a football field. No, not that big. Eighty square meters is 9 meters by 9 meters, or 30 feet by 30 feet. This is smaller than many city apartments.

Opps, why was I think 80 m x 80 m.  ???

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#11 2004-09-30 08:30:30

Grypd
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From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,859

Re: Eat Like a Martian

Hydroponic solution is just water with nutrients and is reasonably easy to use. in other words it is just fertiliser added. What is important is that there must be something for the roots to be able to grow in to hold the plants up, and to allow the nutrient solution to flow. Possible space based solutions are to create fibreglass puffed up similar to cotton wool. We could create trays of beads that allow a medium for the plants to grow.

Creating a working hydroponic system is not the problem it is creating plants that would work in lower gravity or with different extremes of light. If we can do this and with our control of the enviroment ie increased co2 these plants should thrive and so will our colonies.


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

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#12 2004-10-02 16:10:21

Mad Grad Student
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From: Phoenix, Arizona, North Americ
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Posts: 498
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Re: Eat Like a Martian

Hey, it worked for the Irish, maybe it will work for Martians, too. Perhaps it would be prudent to genetically modify the potatoes to be more disease-resistent, as the whole Irish potato saga didn't have, er, a happy ending. Potato blight can be very bad if that's what you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. yikes

Speaking of which, real colonists would need more variety than just potatoes, tomatoes, and corn. The guy in the article mentions that 4 or 5 chickens would eat as much as a single human, so warm-blooded animals aren't a good idea, but what about fish? They're cold blooded so they don't need much food and could be modified to eat the parts of the plants we don't wanna eat, so there'd be very little waste. Throw in a deep fryer and some malt vinegar and you have your first planetary food export, fish n' chips a` la Mars! :laugh:

It's good that someone is putting some reasearch into this, but does anyone know how many plants you'd need per person for oxygen requirements? Apparently 80 square meters can cover food, but would you need more or less for oxygen?


A mind is like a parachute- it works best when open.

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#13 2004-10-02 16:24:29

Rxke
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From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,658

Re: Eat Like a Martian

It's good that someone is putting some reasearch into this, but does anyone know how many plants you'd need per person for oxygen requirements? Apparently 80 square meters can cover food, but would you need more or less for oxygen?

Pump it through the 'living' soil, micro-organisms are good scrubbers...

They did that on Biosphere 2, dunno if there are numbers out there to see how well this works on the long term, or how much soil you need for x amount of fresh air/hour etc. though... But it worked remarkably well.

Should be a great college science project...


ExoMars' launcher's 2nd stage is probably en route to Mars. Unsterilised... yikes

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#14 2004-10-02 19:40:10

chat
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From: Ontario Canada
Registered: 2003-10-23
Posts: 371

Re: Eat Like a Martian

A Martian diet of 50% mushrooms could decrease the needed space for each colonist by 50% or more.

Mushrooms are happy to grow in poor quality poorly lit damp soil beneath the growing benches.
Or in an environment with no light, such as caves.

Better yet the mushrooms would happily grow on the waste the humans produce, and the waste from the plants.

After many mushroom crops are grown on it, the reclaimed soil could them be used as soil for the plants.


The universe isn't being pushed apart faster.
It is being pulled faster towards the clumpy edge.

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#15 2004-10-03 03:34:20

Rxke
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From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,658

Re: Eat Like a Martian

But they don't produce oxy, au contraire... They produce CO2..

I love mushrooms, BTW, so do not see this as a no-to-mushrooms vote, heehee...


ExoMars' launcher's 2nd stage is probably en route to Mars. Unsterilised... yikes

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#16 2004-10-03 04:38:23

chat
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From: Ontario Canada
Registered: 2003-10-23
Posts: 371

Re: Eat Like a Martian

Rxke,

I agree those mushrooms are pretty darn good smile

I don't think oxygen production will be a big issue on mars.
Splitting the co2 with bacteria or machines is probably more efficient than counting on plants to supply all the oxygen.

Another great source of food could be crayfish and freshwater clams living in tanks with the fish.

Maybe a 3 tier system, plants at top level, tanks with water below them and then mushroom beds below that.

Fish or  crayfish and sauteed mushrooms.
Salad on the side.

Or maybe clam alfredo and stuffed mushrooms with fresh spring onions.

A pretty normal diet as long as your a mushroom eater smile


The universe isn't being pushed apart faster.
It is being pulled faster towards the clumpy edge.

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#17 2004-10-03 18:36:16

RobS
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From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
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Re: Eat Like a Martian

I've been meaning to post this information for the last six months or so. In 1977 NASA published SP-413, "Space Settlements: A Design Study." The 185 page paperback report describes the construction of a rotating space colony of 10,000 people at the Earth-Moon L2 point (past the moon) for the purpose of manufacturing solar power satellites. The design assumes a mass driver on the moon that fires relatively small packages of lunar regolith into space at a fairly constant rate, which are caught by a tug that fires rocks using its own small mass driver to move the final load of space debris to the colony, where it is processed into solar panels and into the colony itself. The colony has 1 million square meters of surface area (100 square meters per person) and has a total mass of half a million tonnes.

The food production section gives these details, per person per day:

species      amount, gm     yield, gm/m2     area in m2
sorghum     317                83                  3.8
soybeans    470                20                23.5
wheat        225                31                  7.2
rice           125                35                  3.6
corn            50                58                  0.9
vegetables  687              132                  5.2

TOTALS     1874             359                 44.2

It adds that 250 gms per person per day of fruit is assumed but it gives no area for the trees; I suppose they are grown in the colony's park land (see below). The report later gives these breakdowns in grams per person per day: carrots, lettuce, apples, potatoes, tomaotoes, oranges, 100 grams each; peas, 150 grams per person per day. As for animal production, the report gives these details, again per person per day:

species     number/person    area/animal     area/person
Fish          26                    0.1                 2.6
Chickens    6.2                   0.13               0.8
Rabbits      2.8                   0.4                 1.1
Cattle        0.15                 4.0                 0.6

TOTALS                                                  5.1

So to interpret this chart for you, the average person needs a stock of 26 fish; each fish needs 0.1 sq meters; thus the colony needs 2.6 square meters of pond per person (note this is less than the rice paddy area, so the latter is plenty). The publication in another places says it assumes 40 grams per person per day of each of the following: trout, rabbit, beef, chicken. The report later says that soybeans, sorghum, and corn are all produced for animal food. Each colonist also has 24 grams of eggs and 500 grams of milk per day. The appendices

The report also says the agricultural output assumes constant sunlight, high CO2 levels, and optimal plant nutrition, giving a result ten times better than open-air agriculture on Earth and twice as good as hothouse agriculture. My guess is that Martian yields with lower sunlight twelve hours a day would be closer to hothouse levels, so double the agricultural numbers for Marsa. The result is 88 square meters, similar to the guy in Alaska, plus 5.1 square meters for animal production, giving 93 square meters total.

The report also assumes a growth medium of foamed lunar rock (after it was melted) 0.3 meters deep, with a density of 721 kg per cubic meter. The soil also requires 10% water by mass and an equal amount of water in reserve. So this amounts to 216 kg per square meter of "soil" and 22 kg/m2 of water. For 44 square meters, that's 9504 kg soil and 950 kg water. Double that for Mars: 19 tonnes of soil and 2 tonnes of water per person. It sounds like a lot, but a bulldozer and a deep well can do it pretty easily.

This is getting long; I'll give the housing and work space elsewhere.

             -- RobS

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#18 2004-10-03 19:21:27

RobS
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From: South Bend, IN
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Re: Eat Like a Martian

Here are a few more facts: the agriculture produces 7340 grams of harvest waste per day. Of that, 845 grams is sorghum roughage, from which 125 grams of sugar can be extracted for human use. Of the 7340 grams of roughage, 589 grams is carbon, 756 grams is hydrogen, 5969 grams is oxygen, and 26 grams is nitrogen. The harvest waste is a large percentage moisture.

The appendices gives dozens of tables. For example, there is a table that gives the complete dietary breakdown per person in terms of calories, carbohydrate, protein, etc. Another table gives a single breakdown for each of the animal species. Another table shows how the agricultural yields were arrived at; the record yield per hectare for each species was doubled. For example, the record yield for wheat on Earth is 14 tonnes per hectare. This amounts to 1400 grams per square meter per growing season. The growing season for wheat is 100 days so the yield is 14 grams per square meter per day. The colony assumes a shortened growing season of 90 days and a harvest of 2800 grams per meter (double the terrestrial record). It can make this assumption because the colony will have no losses from weather damage, insect damage, weed damage, disease damage, etc. This yields a production of 31 grams per square meter per day.

In terms of space use, the report gives these numbers of square meters per person:

Residential                     49 m2
Business                          3.3 (2.3 shops, 1 offices)
Public and semipublic          3.8 (1, schools; 0.3, hospital; 1.5 assembly space; 1 recreation and entertainment)
Public open space             10
Service industry                 4
Storage                            5
Transportation                  12
Waste treatment                4
Electrical, communication     0.15
Miscellaneous                     2.9

TOTAL                            94.2 square meters per person

But these are stacked in multiple levels sometimes; residential assumes four stories, for example. So the "footprint" of all this is less; 46.6 square meters. The agriculture is stacked as well, giving a total area of 67 square meters per person. For Mars, assuming 46.6 square meters of footprint for the nonagricultural areas and 88 square meters for agriculture, the total is 135 square meters per person. But I bet the agricultural area can be less.

                  -- RobS

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#19 2004-10-03 22:11:36

John Creighton
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
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Re: Eat Like a Martian

But they don't produce oxy

Oh well scrub the air another way.

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#20 2004-10-03 23:21:36

RobS
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From: South Bend, IN
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Re: Eat Like a Martian

The solar energy situation on Mars is better than I thought. *Space Settlements: A Design Study* says that while the Earth receives 1390 watts per square meter above the Earth's atmosphere, the surface receives 747 watts per square meter, or 54% as much. This is because of the clouds and atmospheric absorption of light. In contrast, when Mars has clear skies (2/3 of the year) the surface gets 500 watts per square meter, or 2/3 as much as the Earth's surface. Very simple mirrors on the dome to reflect sunlight downward on plants that otherwise would have passed over them can raise the total to as much, or even higher, the level on the Earth's surface.

So this suggests to me that the yields expected on the space colony--where there are no bugs or diseases, water and nutrients are always optimum, CO2 is high (about 0.01 to 0.02 atmospheres), and there are no weeds--should be possible on the Martian surface as well, especially considering that genetic modification of crops is just beginning. The only caveat is that during 1/3 of the year, crop yields will fall because of dust storms (during thick global dust storms, insolation drops considerably). If we assume crop yields are cut in half by the dust storms, then yields will be only 5/6 as much as on the space colony when averaged over a Martian year, so the 44.2 square meters per person of agricultural area expands to 53 square meters.

               -- RobS

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#21 2004-10-04 09:52:29

Grypd
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From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,859

Re: Eat Like a Martian

But they don't produce oxy

Oh well scrub the air another way.

Ah but carbon dioxide rich enviroments are perfect for the growth of many plants and using mushrooms will allow us to create a cycle where we can ensure that the enviroment of an agriculture dome is at its optimum.

We will likely be growing more plants than are needed to turn the carbon dioxide into oxygen anyway so we can use mushrooms as a quick growing artificial means to keep the air balanced.


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

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#22 2004-10-04 18:27:45

Mad Grad Student
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From: Phoenix, Arizona, North Americ
Registered: 2003-11-09
Posts: 498
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Re: Eat Like a Martian

They did that on Biosphere 2, dunno if there are numbers out there to see how well this works on the long term, or how much soil you need for x amount of fresh air/hour etc. though... But it worked remarkably well.

Should be a great college science project...

Hm, I'll keep that in mind when I'm applying to MIT. :laugh:

I don't recall the oxygen filtration system in Biosphere 2 working out so well. In fact, wasn't that the demise of the whole project? Whoever designed the thing didn't take into account aerobic bacteria in the soil and then ended up consuming nearly all of the oxygen before it could get to the people. Miscalculations in Biosphere meant pumping in LOX, then opening the doors. On Mars there will be no doors to open and only so much emergency oxygen, whoever designs a future Mars base had better be accurate in their calculations.


A mind is like a parachute- it works best when open.

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#23 2004-10-04 21:04:32

Commodore
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From: Upstate NY, USA
Registered: 2004-07-25
Posts: 1,021

Re: Eat Like a Martian

The only caveat is that during 1/3 of the year, crop yields will fall because of dust storms (during thick global dust storms, insolation drops considerably).

               -- RobS

Thats why we have Metal Halide Lamps.

There also handy if you want to avoid genetic mutation.


"Yes, I was going to give this astronaut selection my best shot, I was determined when the NASA proctologist looked up my ass, he would see pipes so dazzling he would ask the nurse to get his sunglasses."
---Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane

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#24 2004-10-08 10:51:48

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,284

Re: Eat Like a Martian

What could NASA, potatoes and China possibly have in common?

Space Spuds To The Rescue

food-quantum-tubers-bg.jpg

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/food-04f.html

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#25 2004-10-12 11:33:37

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Eat Like a Martian

*Yep.  :up:

I'm still surprised at this (in the original article I posted in the 1st of this thread):  "'We tried growing wheat, but we could have gotten several pounds of potatoes for an area that gave me just a cupful of wheat."

Maybe some sort of hybrid could be developed.  Can't imagine life anywhere without wheat and its byproducts.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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