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Mars Space

Gardening On Mars 262

Calopteryx writes "Following Obama's announcement of the intention to send humans to Mars by the mid-2030s, New Scientist reports on plans to piece together the elements of a starter kit for the first colonists of the Red Planet: 'The creation of a human outpost on Mars is still some way off, but that hasn't stopped us planning the garden.'"
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Gardening On Mars

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  • And (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:14PM (#32033084)

    Tilapia nilotica will probably be the first interplanetary fish.

  • by Orga ( 1720130 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:18PM (#32033184)
    Currently we have rules against engineering other planets and it's made very clear without massively changing the atmosphere on Mars to filter out UV rays then everything is going to have to live in biospheres... we can do that anywhere.. even in space.
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:19PM (#32033204)
    Why would you want to go to all the trouble and energy of escaping the Earth's gravity well, only to drop back into another gravity well? I say we shoot for the asteroid belt -- it has both the necessary resources and easier access to them. Sure, it lacks gravity, but so does the moon.
  • Re:And (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:22PM (#32033270)

    continued survival of the worlds vegan population indicates that there are no major health problems with such a diet.

    Don't you have to take supplements to make up for things missing in the vegan diet? I have read this several times in nutrition books, based on studies. And some of them were major health problems, depending on which supplement was not taken... especially for pregnancy.

  • by bradbury ( 33372 ) <> on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:36PM (#32033482) Homepage

    The entire concept of planetary visits, colonies, etc. is the one of the most out-of-date (read waste-of-time) ideas currently circulating. The only people that promote it are those with misguided romantic ideas about humans exploring Mars as they did the Earth in the 16th-18th centuries. They should be discarded as out of date given that (a) humans are not designed (due to insufficient and error prone DNA repair systems in their genome) to endure long term space voyages or planetary habitation outside of the magnetosphere of the Earth (where high radiation doses are a constant threat); (b) progress in robotics and AI is likely to make sending robotic explorers much more productive and less hazardous than sending humans by 2030; and (c) if we pushed on molecular nanotechnology just a little harder by 2030 we would be disassembling Mars for material to build the Matrioshka Brain rather than thinking about growing food on it for colonists (no point building a farm if you are only going to disassemble it).

    I like the romantic exploration ideas just as much as the next person -- but it just isn't justified given current rates of technological progress. It is also worth pointing out if we ever get to the point where we modify our genomes (or those of astronaut explorers) to be radiation tolerant we can also engineer them to be lack-of-gravity tolerant [1]. In which case living at the bottom of a gravity well makes no sense -- instead we should be migrating to O'Neill style colonies or long term interstellar "arks" (presumably to remove the "single-point-of-failure" problem humanity faces by living on a single planet or around a single star).

    1. Modifying large numbers of cells to be radiation & lack-of-gravity tolerant in adults will be very hard (read nearly impossible) without molecular nanotechnology (e.g. chromallocytes) in adults. The only way to do this correctly is to breed a new species of human designed for space environments. Unless you can engineer them to mature much faster (doubtful) that implies you need to take transgenic-human-birth-dates + ~25-30 years before one can seriously consider long term exploration/colonization efforts.

  • by Skarecrow77 ( 1714214 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:48PM (#32033722)

    Actually, Mars and the Moon aren't very similar at all other than the superficial difference of "they're both outside LEO, and neither one has an oxygen atmosphere". You can get better approximation of living and working on Mars in antarctica, or hell even Wyoming, than you can on the Moon.

    The moon is absolutely positivly not a prerequsite for Mars. You certainly can (and should!) design hardware that simultaniously serves dual roles on both the Moon and Mars, in order to save expenses, but there is no "study" or "experimentation" that needs to be done on the moon to prepare us for Mars.

    We had comprehensive, workable, plans based on existing (not future) hardware and technology to get to Mars since at least the mid 90s. We didn't do it because of internal NASA bickering and politics. Everybody thinks "oh we can't get to mars for X reason without Y technology". When you ask other scientists about X reason, they explain that X is bunk, and that the real reason the first group is so "concerned" with X reason is because Y technology is the pet project of that team.

    Of course then this same second group explains to you that the REAL reason we can't get to Mars is because of reason Z, which will convinently be fixed by THEIR technology Q, which they could get finished quickly if only they had more funding.

    It's all about getting funding for your pet project.

  • Re:And (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:54PM (#32033836)

    Soy is the second most alergenic food to humans

    My wife is extremely allergic to soy. We have since found out that it is in everything from tea to salad dressing. And soybean oil is common, too, along with sunflower oil - which is also in almost everything... even vitamin E gel things.

    You don't need to be allergic to much at all to basically eliminate almost all non-"single" food (i.e., where it's just exactly what it says: like "broccoli" or "beef")... i.e.: if you can't have sugar, dairy, gluten, and soy, it knocks out a whole lot of stuff. Even normal things like chips, tea, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:08PM (#32034062)

    You know, I can't help but start laughing at this post;

    While certainly true that humans are not biologically adapted to conditions on a long space voyage, Humans are not biologically adapted to crossing large oceans either. Nor are they biologically adapted to flying at high altitudes.

    Humans routinely do these things though.

    Something you might (or might not, given the tone of your post) find interesting:
    [abstract about inflation of magnetic fields using high density plasmas]

    Essentially, you could create a massively inflated magnetic field around the spacecraft by circulating a high-velocity plasma jet through the magnetic field. If we are already taking a small fission plant with us (to power our craft as we leave the sun behind) this is less of a problem. Additionally, we could potentially use the same expanded magnetic field as a solar sail, since in space the field would expand to a *ahem* "Very considerable" size.

    The major issue would be with micrometeorites.

    As for Mars itself:

    Mars as an incomplete magnetic envelope. It has multiple magnetic dipoles, that do not fully expand outside the planet's atmosphere. By supplementing the martian magnetosphere with a series of stabilizing plasma producing satellites, and capturing the solar wind particles and recirculating them through an artificial network of magnetic currents, a semi-stable magnetic envelope could possibly be produced, but it would require a project on par with our GPS and COM-SAT network around the earth.

    (the goal would be to create something similar to the van-allen belts that circle the earth; being essentially solar wind particles that have become trapped in the earth;s magnetosphere, and which expand/enhance it. This phenomenon is well known; See for instance, Io's effect on Jupiter's magnetosphere.)

  • Re:And (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:18PM (#32034220) Homepage Journal

    It's also added to milk on occasion, and it's often used as the medium for carrying anatto color. It lurks in shampoos and body washes and so forth. On time I decided to take a bubble bath, was relaxing and within about 20 minutes my whole body started burning (think about the worst sunburn you've had - and imagine that over EVERYWHERE from the neck down - EVERYWHERE). Well I jumped out of the tub and drained it, took a very cold shower and downed some benedryl. Then, I checked the ingredients - sure enough, hydrolized soy protein and vegetable oil. Fun stuff. Soy is everywhere you look, and also everywhere you didn't think to look.

    Oh by the way I found the best soy sauce substitute that tastes almost identical to soy sauce; coconut liquid aminos. The stuff is amazing. I just used it for a party this weekend and people could not tell the difference between that and soy sauce. Great stuff.

  • by Skarecrow77 ( 1714214 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:23PM (#32034306)

    The VAST majority of failed Mars missions failed during automated landing, not during transit.

    Granted, we weren't sending air-breathing meatbags before, but let me ask you this question: What's the big problem with risks?

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