Are You Ready to Travel to Mars?
Growing Plants on Mars
Get Yourself to Mars!
For those who look to the stars and want to travel to distant planets, you may have been applying for, or at least paying attention to the Mars One project. The project’s goal is to establish the first permanent human settlement on Mars, which begs the question “Do you want to die on Mars?”.
Besides the need for the initial settlers to have significant engineering and scientific requirements, there are several logistical fields that need to be taken care of as well. One of these needs is food, or rather creating sustainable food once the people are on Mars. This is where ecologist Wieger Wamelick of Wageningen, UR proposes that the soil on Mars may be sustainable for cultivating food crops and if his prognosis is correct, this would obviously prove highly practical for people staying on the red planet.
How to Grow Vegetables on Mars
Over a period of 50 days, Wieger tested the growth rate of fourteen varieties of edible plants on soil created by NASA that is designed to replicate the soil on Mars. According to Wieger, the soil analysis after the test showed that the plants responded well to their new environment due to the nutrients such as phosphorus, iron oxides and nitrogen.
"I had expected the germination process to work, but I thought the plants would die due to a lack of nutrients," Wieger explains.
Of course food is not the only essential needed, but also the challenges of Martian Habitats, which require an entirely unique approach to architectural engineering to ensure the safety of all inhabitants.
How to Build a Home on Mars
Which brings us to Space Habs, by Bryan Versteeg, who has been working on creating space habitats, asteroid mining and orbital station concepts since 2011, the company has recently focused on Mars Habitats due to the publicity and funding of the Mars One project.
One of the key challenges faced by architecting a space home is the range of temperature the materials have to withstand. As Versteeg mentions in his recent Gizmag interview, “Environment can be a very difficult variable to design for. In space, the equipment exposed to the sun can bake at 250C but once it is in shadow, can plummet below -160C. The temperature can make some materials melt or become extremely brittle and the resulting expansion and contracting can cause a lot of stress to structural members. On Mars, there is less of a temperature variable but a different environmental factor like dust that has to be taken into account. Dust can cause extra wear to small moving parts and clog filters as well as be a health hazard to the astronauts.”
Because of this, and other factors such as radiation, the Mars One project is bringing in additional team members such as Kristian von Bengtson who will be leading work on a simulation of Mars’ home from Denmark. Kristian’s primary focus will be taking the concepts and theories and producing actual prototype hardware for manned space missions.
How You Can Help Send People to Mars
If you’re excited about space exploration and would like to help send people to Mars, you can check out the Mars One project website and purchase merchandise, make a donation, for businesses corporate sponsorship is available or you can sign up with partners like Uwinga ad their call for grant applications.