Dirt and additional water weighs a lot. They would require a ton of dirt to grow anywhere near enough food to sustain themselves, along with the facilities with enough space to grow the food. I don't know exact numbers for how much farming space you need to feed a single human being, but I think it's a lot more than you think it is. And they'll either need supplements to account for things like protein that your cucumbers and tomatoes don't have, or they'll need to plant a variety of food that just made things a bunch harder.
I assume they'd provide them with a small hydroponics thing to entertain themselves living terrible, boring, doomed miserable lives on this death sentence to hell you've just sent them on, but it'd probably not be a primary source of food.
Originally Posted by Loire
Martian regolith is mostly sand, dust and rocks, that puts me in mind of a desert, Have you ever tried to grow a plant in a desert? you can't just plant something in a desert and hope that it grows, you can't even take a dump on it and use it as fertiliser because there's nothing to fertilise.
What we're going to need is a greenhouse, some algae, some lichen, some moss and some mushrooms that we introduce in sequence to the Martian regolith and hope that succession starts to happen. if you have regular unmanned missions to expand the greenhouse and supply it with more and more lichen, moss, algae and seeds. Then after only a hundred or so years you might have enough "farmland" to sustain a population of 5 people as long as you bring soil with you from Earth to speed up the process and you install aeroponics or hydroponics facilities in the big, modular greenhouse. Some genetic engineering of lichen would probably also not go amiss.
Then you can start talking about hosting a bloody TV show. I don't actually know if that would work but to me it sounds like a good way to set the terraforming ball rolling.
Just to reiterate, all of this is strictly UNMANNED until you can actually put humans there. You still need a ship with enough food and radiation shielding to protect your crew which we aren't really very good at yet. We might be by the time we have a nice habitat there though.
I think what the mars one team should do is consult the grade school level of understanding of ecosystems we have going on in this thread for advice.
"Nah man, all you gotta do is keep it a closed system and recycle your shit it'll totally work just like the earth only smaller because my model incorporates recycling nutrients which I bet you didn't think of."
Maybe in 50 years we'll be at the level of biological science people seem to think we're at now. Hey maybe we'll cure cancer by then, too.
Originally Posted by Loire
Yeah obviously you have to introduce a nitrogen cycle and DOM but that's almost trivial once you have an actual project to work on and a regular supply of ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, amino acids and good stuff like that would be quite possible since you won't have to radiation shield it (much) and you don't have to feed it while it's on the way to Mars.
pretty sure we already came up with the solution to this problem. i had to go far back in time to find this suggestion: http://failheap-challenge.com/showth...CKIES-IN-SPACE
only problem is teh rapid onset of dark matter could cause problems in the long term.
Last edited by Frug; June 8 2012 at 04:35:19 AM.
Originally Posted by Loire
Also the solution to the problem we've been discussing in this thread!It is every citizen's final duty to go into the tanks and become one with all the people.
I tried to be cool and all I got was a lousy warning about my sig being too big.
I dunno, I can't think it's that complicated. If they were doing soil farming, it'd be the equivalent of a compost pile - nature breaking down old shit (no pun intended) so new plants can use it again. The only stumbling block is that they'd probably need to figure out how to have the nutrients back in a liquid form for aeroponics or hydroponics, but that can't be that hard. Oh, and bringing whatever necessary organisms safely from earth, which could be problematic as well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2#Oxygen this is interesting, If you could efficiently crack the polar water into Oxygen then you could have an entirely closed system anywhere you wanted as long as you had enough gravity to make plants work.
I read that experiments done with cress shows that you can actually make plants grow properly with simulated gravity. My suggestions for a natural succession with an "invasion" of terrestrial life was only partially sarcastic, it would be possible and in conjunction with an actual closed ecological system you could have a stepping stone to building a colony on Mars as long as you could shield people from the radiation on the way there and while they were actually on Mars.
Physically possible yes but I doubt anyone with enough money will actually decide to do it unless there's something of value on Mars. As far as we know there really isn't.
This post smacks of being a bit too retardedly optimistic, I'm not used to optimism, I don't like it. What have I missed?
The reason our intuition is that it would be so simple, is that we live on a world where in most places you can just put something in the ground and boom it grows. There's a lot of things going on behind (or at least beneath) the scenes that we never see that makes that happen. For one thing, microbes in the soil produce nitrogen that plants need to grow, but said nitrogen is so ubiquitous in the ground that we don't even realize it's needed.
In order to do the kind of large-scale crop production we're talking about on the surface of a planet, you basically need to build an entire biosphere from the ground up, piece by piece. I'm no biologist but I don't think you can just transplant a small slice of complete ecosystem and call it a day.
And as long as you're going through the effort and expense of building an entire biosphere, you might as well go all the way and fully terraform that planet.