Imagineering on Mars

Renewed Interest in Mars  - Why Go to Mars? - Living off the Land - Making Air to Breath 
Making Water Drink  - Making Food to Eat - Making Shelters to Live In - Heating Shelters 
Making ElectricityMars Scientific Data  - Martian Satellites

If a permanent colony of humans are to survive on Mars, they will need to live off the air, sand and rock resources on the surface of Mars. 

Imagineering on Mars discusses how engineers and scientists on earth could help the Martian settlers by developing the machines and factories to transform the stuff of Mars into life sustaining materials.

Making Food to Eat

Martian settlers will need to grow their own food. Concentrated gardening is possible using no soil (hydroponics) growing techniques. A lot of research will be needed  to determine the best kinds of food plants to grow there.

Plants that produce a lot of eatable materials with little waste would be desired.  Genetic engineering on earth can be used to make specific plants for the settlers to produce complex compounds. Some plants might be engineered that could thrive on much higher carbon dioxide levels. Since the Martian atmosphere has thirty times more carbon dioxide per unit volume than earth's atmosphere, accelerated growth may be possible. Standard herbs and spice plants will also need to be grown to make the otherwise bland food more palatable. Other non-eatable plants may also be grown to produce complex organic compounds that may have a wide variety of applications. Certain kinds of bacteria could be carefully grown to produce needed compounds and food additives. Certain mushrooms and fungi would also be grown.

Above ground green houses may be constructed but such structures would require a lot of insulation to ward off the very cold Martian air. If Martian soil is used, it would have to be carefully processed. After billions of years of ultraviolet light and solar wind exposure, the soil may be far too reactive for growing healthy plants. The soil may have to be neutralized and fertilized before plants will grow. Bacteria common to the soil on earth may also be added to the soil to help decompose some plant waste. Since the sunlight on Mars is only about one half as bright as on earth, artificial light may be needed to speed up the growth rate for food plants.

It may also be possible to synthesize some life sustaining food from Martian rock. Certain, salts, proteins and amino acids might be produced through a series of complex chemical reactions that begin with some carbon based materials from Martian rocks. The materials might be used to supplement the diet of the Martians.

If truly abundant water is found, fish farming may also be possible. A wide variety of different fish eggs could be brought from earth. Other aquatic life might also be raised for food. Plant waste that is not eaten by the humans could serve as food for the fish. Waste from the fish would be recycled as food for the plants.

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