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The food-problem

Posted by: Stefan Sigwarth - Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:36 pm
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The food-problem 
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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 08, 2007 1:07 am
That's probably because of lack of micronutrients. I am not sure if "Chlorella" can fix nitrogen and even if it can, there are plenty of trace element that can limit growth. Have you provided the fertilizer to the solution? If not, a piece of soap (I ain't kidding) should help a lot. Anyone who has seen an algal bloom can attest that algae scum grows like crazy under right conditions.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:44 am
Just this moment I was thinking about it from quite another perspective. All the ingredients required to grow food in space need to be taken somewhere.

And they at present seem to be considered to have to be taken from Earth to any other planet from launch to landing and back.

What about partially applying an approach thought about regarding propellants? If LOX or/and LH2 are thought about to be carrued from the Moon into the earthian orbit - might it be possible to provide soil plants etc. need this way too?

In the Moon Mining-thread in the Financial Barriers section for example Klaus mentioned findings that lunar dust or rocks contain nitrogen for example - and plants need nitrogen.

So what about production of proper soil on the Moon and deliver it into the earthian orbit? What about doing such deliveries from the Moon to several points along a planned trajectory towards Mars? ...

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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:58 am
I think that requires a He3-fusion industry. I would say that mining Nitrogen or other elements needed by plants would be more expensive than launching it from Earth.

But when you have a high-value industry there (speak He3-fusion) and have Nitrogen etc as by-products then it would be worth a closer look.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:05 pm
Hello, Klaus,

my thought is to take nitrogen from the Moon instead of launching it from Earth. As far as I am informed and have read the threads of this message board He3-fusion isn't going to happen in the near future - in so far lunar nitrogen might be one good approach to handle a part of the food-problem.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:33 pm
Yes I understood that, but I think that mining just Nitrogen on the Moon would make it more expensive as just launching it from Earth. I think the costs are only then competitive when Nitrogen (and other stuff) is just a by-product of a high-value industry like He3-fusion mining.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:46 pm
Hello, Klaus,

how much it will cost or how economical it wil be depends on how much of the ingredients of lunar dust can be applied or are usefull in general and anywhere (on the Moon itself for example) and what the transportation costs will be (will be calculated during the Lunar Siyuz-thread).

It alternatively is possible to go into deep space from the Moon which would avoid a large portion of transportation costs of lunar nitrogen and avoid a portion of weight to be launched out of the earthian orbit.

Thus energies could be saved for alternative purposes and so on.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:48 pm
Depends on how you want to grow food (hydroponics or soil), taking nitrogen with you is a certainty imo. Why? If you go somewhere and you're gonna grow your own food, you want to start immediately if not yesterday. So if you have to process/create the nitrogen first, transform it into a solution or a compound so you can put it in the ground, the food-supply will be shrinking and you're not adding anything to it.

Perhaps a bit extreme, but you should take with you an x amount of nitrogen, probably in the form of a highly concentrated furtalizer. I'm not completely sure, but plants need nitrogen to grow, they don't actually consume it. So the same amount of nitrogen will be present after the plants have taking out of the ground and from everything but the fruit/seed is processed into compost.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Jun 07, 2008 10:01 am
Under www.wissenschaft.de there was an article Thursday saying that Pluto is covered by frozen nitrogen. The article refers to Alan Stern, Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, and New Scientist 2659, page 16 ( www.newscientist.com/news.ns )

So if scientific exploration and investigation of Pluto doesn't reveal the possibility of hidden life like in Titan or in Enceladus. that plutonian nitrogen might be harvested or mined and applied to improve the environments of planets or even space vehicles for plants. The atmospheres could be enriched by nitrogen locally in habitats etc.

This may be interesting for Mars but also for Pluto itself if it would be used as manned human outpost at the borders of the Kuiper belt to proceed to the interstellar space and to other stars.

Regarding vehicles it may free missions of the requirement to carry earthian nitrogen - this wouldn't have to be launched no more if it would be taken from Pluto. At the neptunian Moon also nitrogen has been found - but there active volcanism has been observed and perhaps the interior is habitable. So the nitrogen of Tethys should be kept there for now.

May be that this fits into other threads also - I didn't find them yet.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Jun 27, 2008 7:12 pm
Regarding Mars at least a solution of the problem might be a bit closer now since the article "Minerals Needed for Life Found on Mars" ( www.space.com/scienceastronomy/080626-p ... pdate.html ) tells that
Quote:
After performing the first wet chemistry experiment ever done on another planet, Phoenix discovered that a sample it dug of Martian dirt contained several soluble minerals, including potassium, magnesium and chloride. Though the data is preliminary, the results are very exciting, scientists said.

"We basically have found what appears to be the requirements for nutrients to support life," said Phoenix's wet chemistry lab lead, Sam Kounaves of Tufts University. "This is the type of soil you'd probably have in your backyard. You might be able to grow asparagus pretty well, but probably not strawberries."

Asparagus, which thrives in alkaline soil, would like the Martian dirt, which Phoenix measured to have a very alkaline pH of between eight to nine. Strawberries, meanwhile, like acidic soil, he said.


So it might be possible to grow Asparagus on Mars. Strawberries are not that possible but it has been reported already that there are acids on Mars elsewhere.

Regarding the food problem during flights between Earth and Mars this might provide a solution also because it would be easier to launch that nutrient-containing soil from Mars and carry it into earthian orbit that to launch it from Earth.

What about it? And might it be healthy to live by Asparagus mainly or only???



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Post    Posted on: Fri Jun 27, 2008 8:48 pm
I think the asparges and strawberries were just examples of perfectly regular foodstuff you could grow in martian soil. I have no doubt that given the right temperature and atmosphere, you could grow pretty much anything in martian soil.

Which means mars may be the ideal place to grow food for consumption in space. Water - check. Gravity - check. Nutritious soil - check. Atmosphere - well, the right gases are there, so a pressurized and heated habitat would be required for the plants, probably with radiation shielding and artificial sunlight too.

Building a farm on mars (indoors of course, several stories high to maximize growth area and minimize surface area of walls/ceiling) and shipping food from mars with spaceships might be cheaper than building the farm in space? And depending on what the launch costs from mars will be - given enough infrastructure, it could/should be cheaper than launching from earth..

And for supplying a colony on mars, it's of course a major plus that the soil has the right nutritients to grow food (I assume some fertilizer would be needed, just like here on earth).


Last edited by Minthos on Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Jul 02, 2008 11:56 pm
You'd probably need a couple of "seasons" of different life forms to condition the soil to grow complex plant life in it. Anaerobic bacteria first to build up the carbon content and add some of the more complex chemicals found in Earth soils. Maybe a crop of a nitrogen fixing plant too like soybeans or alfalfa to till in to make it more like a home for the plants that are evolved for dirt that has had stuff living in it for billions of years.

What will be a very interesting experiment on the Moon and Mars is if plants can actually grow in raw alien dirt that has the right chemical composition with just water added. My hunch is the answer is "No" given the above.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:57 pm
Only one way to find out though...

Maybe they'd actually try to grow something on a mission soon?


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jul 04, 2008 5:58 am
unlikely. contamination of mars.

sample return and try to grow on the sample? or stimulated mars soil and conditions?


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:49 pm
Should be possible to avid contamination, and a one way trip is always easier than a return mission


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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:34 am
An article under www.welt.de is reporting that german scientists from Hamburg, Stuttgart and Bremen in between let algae consume CO2.

In Hamburg this way valuable raw materials are made from CO2. Biomass is got which is of interest for the food industry besides cosmetics. Sugar, proteins and high-quality oils are got. The "oils" seem to be substances lie that got from Soya.

The algae produce ten times the biomass got from Raps.

The production depends on sunlight - which is abundant in LEO and in the inner solar system in general.

200 times the amount of CO2 is transformed than by an "Eichenwald".

Micro-algae are applied that grow 20 to 30 times as fast as plants. Lipid acids, lipids, pigments and sterines are got.

So what about testing this at the ISS? Replacing the use of CO2-filters by a bioreactor that turnes the CO2 into food via micro-algae? The algae consume Nitrogen and Phosphor - both of which don't be a problem in LEO. What about those two elements at a flight to Mars?

What about this a s a possibility to solve the food-problem?



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