Author Topic: Martian forest  (Read 9889 times)

Offline colbourne

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Martian forest
« on: 01/27/2017 05:21 AM »
As the cost of bringing materials from Earth is so high are we going to see large parts of the habitats filled with bamboo and trees.

Bamboo is very fast growing and the shoots can be used for food. It is a very useful building material and to make it , you need little more than CO2 ,water and sunlight. Most of the other nutrients can come from the waste reprocessing plant.
Other trees although slower growing will have their uses providing wood as well as food.

I always see pictures of habitats as barren places full of computers and little else, but I would expect nearly every spare inch to be covered with some kind of useful plant life.
If we do find large lava tubes, it would be a useful first use for them to fill with plants that can look after themselves once light and water has been provided.

Online Dalhousie

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #1 on: 01/27/2017 05:49 AM »
Bamboo is arguably one of the world's most useful plants.  It's amazing stuff. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo
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Offline JAFO

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #2 on: 01/27/2017 06:03 AM »
Lots of issues trying to grow it. Bamboo can grow incredibly rapidly, but it needs a lot of water and nitrogen. (It's basically an overgrown grass.) Even the clumping bamboo we planted at our place a few years ago filled in pretty quickly once I put a drip system on it and fed it a high nitrogen fertilizer a few times in the spring and early summer.

We got a lot of good information from this place http://bamboogarden.com/care.htm   
« Last Edit: 01/27/2017 08:30 AM by JAFO »
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Offline high road

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #3 on: 01/27/2017 06:38 AM »
Nitrogen is available on Mars, and can be turned into ammonia for fertilisation relatively easily. Select/splice species of bamboo that grow in arid regions to optimize water consumption/growth rate.

How does bamboo do in regards to making biofuel, bioplastics etc? Including how much of its biomass can be turned into a useful product on Mars. The more versatile the crop, the better.

Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #4 on: 01/27/2017 09:27 AM »
How does bamboo do in regards to making biofuel, bioplastics etc? Including how much of its biomass can be turned into a useful product on Mars. The more versatile the crop, the better.

For biomass algae will beat bamboo IMO. It will provide raw materials for the chemical industry.

Bamboo is good for cellulose. For paper, diapers, cloth for clothing. You can already buy socks from bamboo. But it can be used for chemical raw material too.

Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #5 on: 01/27/2017 10:53 PM »
I once had another idea, that fits very well into that thread.

Imagine living in a martian station, your appartments walls are made of metal (probably coated), the ceiling and the floor are made of metal, etc... everywhere metal and plastic.

Wood will be soon a very valuable good, especially since it provides a nice and smooth surface, totally different to metal and plasic. Bamboo could be used to a certain extent, since it is fast growing, but it has a totally different shape. There'll be wood-imitations made of plastic, but that's not a lot of fun.

My guess is, that many martian citizen will have some sort of small tree in their appartment. Mostly citrus-trees (lemons, oranges) as they can be really small (half a meter) and yet they can produce fruits (which will be a nice extra).

Well, and every branch of a tree, as long as it is more than 3 years old, will ihave its value.

I guess, for annual rings, the cabin containing the tree needs to chance the temperature. Not helpful for citrus fruit production, but still.. not too bad.

Offline Aussie_Space_Nut

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #6 on: 01/28/2017 12:07 AM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #7 on: 01/28/2017 01:19 AM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.
Not sure that applies to bamboo which usually grows in very thick stands without much wind force.
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Offline TripD

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #8 on: 01/28/2017 01:48 AM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.

You could stimulate the bending action with a horizontal lath work moving side to side.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2017 01:49 AM by TripD »

Offline meekGee

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #9 on: 01/28/2017 04:17 AM »
When thinking about underground habitats, I always imagined that they would be slightly sloped, so each cavern could have a stream running through it.

With Bamboo, it will look even cooler.
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Offline RonM

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #10 on: 01/28/2017 05:14 AM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.

You could stimulate the bending action with a horizontal lath work moving side to side.

It might be nice once in awhile to rev up fans and create a wind to remind people what it was like back on old Earth.

Offline MickQ

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #11 on: 01/28/2017 07:07 AM »
When thinking about underground habitats, I always imagined that they would be slightly sloped, so each cavern could have a stream running through it.

With Bamboo, it will look even cooler.

With at least one waterfall feeding a swimming hole.

Online Semmel

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #12 on: 01/28/2017 08:39 AM »
What about fire hazard due to wood? I don't think all material in the colony will be fire proof but I guess that it will be very restricted. Fire is one of the events that can destroy large parts of the colony. Even if fire is not a showstopper for wooden products, there might be strong restrictions on its presence.

Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #13 on: 01/28/2017 10:37 AM »
Don't let dead wood linger. Which you would not do in a habitat anyway.  Fresh green wood is hard to ignite. Bark may be a problem, but not with bamboo.

Bamboo can be glued into panels of any size. I have nice chopping boards made from bamboo. It is  massive and smooth, not easily ignited. But once ignited it may burn well.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #14 on: 01/28/2017 11:46 AM »
In case of a fire, an immediate pressure drop could slow it significantly without suffocating people. Then, backfilling the pressure with buffer gas to further reduce the fire risk.
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Online Phil Stooke

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #15 on: 01/28/2017 01:44 PM »
"What about fire hazard due to wood?"

True, but plastics are also potential fire hazards, with more toxic combustion products.   Fire protection will be important whatever materials are in use. 

Offline Rei

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #16 on: 01/29/2017 10:30 AM »
Quote
I always see pictures of habitats as barren places full of computers and little else, but I would expect nearly every spare inch to be covered with some kind of useful plant life.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but you mean, inside living quarters?  Houseplants, sure you could, but do you have any sense of how much light it takes to grow something actually useful?  And also how fast humidity (aka transpiration) accumulates when you pack a sealed living space full of plants, and what it does to all of those aforementioned computers?

(I grow crop plants indoors under artificial light.  If I fully seal the growth tent and shut off all ventilation, it literally rains in there)
« Last Edit: 01/29/2017 10:31 AM by Rei »

Offline DigitalMan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #17 on: 01/29/2017 02:00 PM »
Quote
I always see pictures of habitats as barren places full of computers and little else, but I would expect nearly every spare inch to be covered with some kind of useful plant life.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but you mean, inside living quarters?  Houseplants, sure you could, but do you have any sense of how much light it takes to grow something actually useful?  And also how fast humidity (aka transpiration) accumulates when you pack a sealed living space full of plants, and what it does to all of those aforementioned computers?

(I grow crop plants indoors under artificial light.  If I fully seal the growth tent and shut off all ventilation, it literally rains in there)

I have indoor hydro also for several years.  Living in Florida we have high humidity outside but have indoor humidity set to 40%.  We can't adjust to 0% very easily, dry skin is uncomfortable.  I had to build a water replenishment mechanism, it goes through about 10 gallons a week after taking various steps to mitigate loss.

Edit: I would estimate plants are consuming 80% of that because loss is only 1 or 2 gallons a week when plants are small.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2017 02:02 PM by DigitalMan »

Offline Dao Angkan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #18 on: 01/29/2017 11:32 PM »
You can treat it with fire-retardant. It might be pleasant to live amongst the bamboo farm.

Here's a design for a bamboo city.

« Last Edit: 01/29/2017 11:33 PM by Dao Angkan »

Offline philw1776

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #19 on: 01/30/2017 06:40 PM »
One escaped panda goin' rogue could destroy the colony!
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Offline Rei

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #20 on: 01/31/2017 12:22 AM »
One escaped panda goin' rogue could destroy the colony!

If I live to see the day when cargo deliveries to other planets include live pandas, I'll consider that "mission accomplished"  ;)

Offline chalz

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #21 on: 01/31/2017 06:44 AM »
Quote
I always see pictures of habitats as barren places full of computers and little else, but I would expect nearly every spare inch to be covered with some kind of useful plant life.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but you mean, inside living quarters?  Houseplants, sure you could, but do you have any sense of how much light it takes to grow something actually useful?  And also how fast humidity (aka transpiration) accumulates when you pack a sealed living space full of plants, and what it does to all of those aforementioned computers?

(I grow crop plants indoors under artificial light.  If I fully seal the growth tent and shut off all ventilation, it literally rains in there)

If it were me running the Martian forest then I would embrace that. Have the largest enclosing volume be an 'outside'. Day night cycles, illumination primarily from the ceiling, precipitation from sprinklers and some efficient means to move the air(perhaps just the arrangement of heat sources and sinks would be enough). Within that lots of 'inside' spaces where all the humans and their valuables are kept.

Don't build an entire colony that way just dedicate one vast room where things can get a little bit wilder. Even birds, insects and small marsupials. You could copy a biome from Earth - like bamboo forest - or use a novel recipe of complimentary lifeforms.

Isn't the VAB tall enough for clouds to form? What does that do to the equipment and the building fabric? I presume it happens because of the high humidity there.

Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #22 on: 01/31/2017 08:39 AM »
If it were me running the Martian forest then I would embrace that. Have the largest enclosing volume be an 'outside'. Day night cycles, illumination primarily from the ceiling, precipitation from sprinklers and some efficient means to move the air(perhaps just the arrangement of heat sources and sinks would be enough). Within that lots of 'inside' spaces where all the humans and their valuables are kept.

Don't build an entire colony that way just dedicate one vast room where things can get a little bit wilder. Even birds, insects and small marsupials. You could copy a biome from Earth - like bamboo forest - or use a novel recipe of complimentary lifeforms.

I hope for something like that. Not really a bamboo forest. Something more diverse would be more appealing, I believe. But beside that I think there should be plants wherever they can be placed. There are plants that thrive on quite low light levels, if not growing rapidly. They should help with maintaining air quality too.

Offline MickQ

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #23 on: 01/31/2017 08:53 AM »
One escaped panda goin' rogue could destroy the colony!

So.   NO Pandas on Mars, OK ?

Offline Jack17

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #24 on: 01/31/2017 08:58 AM »
I hope for something like that. Not really a bamboo forest. Something more diverse would be more appealing, I believe. But beside that I think there should be plants wherever they can be placed. There are plants that thrive on quite low light levels, if not growing rapidly. They should help with maintaining air quality too.
The thing is that bamboo is such a useful plant that it would make sense to do largely bamboo forests, at least at first.  Other plants and more complex ecosystems would be later-stage stuff.

You could copy a biome from Earth - like bamboo forest - or use a novel recipe of complimentary lifeforms.
I like that, it sounds very Kim Stanley Robinson.

Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #25 on: 01/31/2017 09:32 AM »
I hope for something like that. Not really a bamboo forest. Something more diverse would be more appealing, I believe. But beside that I think there should be plants wherever they can be placed. There are plants that thrive on quite low light levels, if not growing rapidly. They should help with maintaining air quality too.
The thing is that bamboo is such a useful plant that it would make sense to do largely bamboo forests, at least at first.  Other plants and more complex ecosystems would be later-stage stuff.

I responded to the suggestion to have a recreational area, not something economically driven. But I agree initially they can try to combine both functions. Much would depend on the concept used for farming. I do hope for transparent surface greenhouses with an atmosphere at least marginally suitable for humans too.

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #26 on: 01/31/2017 03:47 PM »
Let's not forget that some bamboo shoots are edible;  including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis, and quite nutritious. Have to cook/boil them though as heat destroys the cyanogenic glycosides found therein, a toxin also found in cassava.
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Online Dalhousie

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #27 on: 01/31/2017 10:49 PM »
Let's not forget that some bamboo shoots are edible;  including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis, and quite nutritious. Have to cook/boil them though as heat destroys the cyanogenic glycosides found therein, a toxin also found in cassava.

Bamboo shoots are delicious.
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Offline docmordrid

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #28 on: 01/31/2017 10:51 PM »
Yes, they are...very tasty and even most black thumbs can grow bamboo.
DM

Offline lamontagne

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #29 on: 01/31/2017 11:31 PM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.

You could stimulate the bending action with a horizontal lath work moving side to side.

It might be nice once in awhile to rev up fans and create a wind to remind people what it was like back on old Earth.
You're going to need a fair amount of ventilation anyway.  The problem will more likely be how to keep the noise from the fans from driving you nuts.
Gentle stiring helps stalks to grow stronger.  Helpful for some types of plants.

Offline nacnud

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #30 on: 02/01/2017 12:00 AM »
This is probably worth a look too.

http://www.edenproject.com/eden-story

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #31 on: 02/01/2017 12:18 AM »
Quote
I always see pictures of habitats as barren places full of computers and little else, but I would expect nearly every spare inch to be covered with some kind of useful plant life.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but you mean, inside living quarters?  Houseplants, sure you could, but do you have any sense of how much light it takes to grow something actually useful?  And also how fast humidity (aka transpiration) accumulates when you pack a sealed living space full of plants, and what it does to all of those aforementioned computers?

(I grow crop plants indoors under artificial light.  If I fully seal the growth tent and shut off all ventilation, it literally rains in there)

If it were me running the Martian forest then I would embrace that. Have the largest enclosing volume be an 'outside'. Day night cycles, illumination primarily from the ceiling, precipitation from sprinklers and some efficient means to move the air(perhaps just the arrangement of heat sources and sinks would be enough). Within that lots of 'inside' spaces where all the humans and their valuables are kept.

Don't build an entire colony that way just dedicate one vast room where things can get a little bit wilder. Even birds, insects and small marsupials. You could copy a biome from Earth - like bamboo forest - or use a novel recipe of complimentary lifeforms.

Isn't the VAB tall enough for clouds to form? What does that do to the equipment and the building fabric? I presume it happens because of the high humidity there.

The problem with one big "outside" area surrounding all the buildings is that it's a big risk.  Lose pressurization and you lose all the plants at once.  And if the "inside" areas aren't fully-sealed pressure vessels, you lose them and whoever is in them too.

I'd prefer many copies of smaller self-contained units to contain the plants.  If you lose one, you have a lot of spares.

Offline envy887

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #32 on: 02/01/2017 02:07 AM »
Large volumes take a very long time to depressurize, thanks to the square-cube law. Because flow is sonicly choked even if an airlock-sized area fails, a very large volume will take many minutes or even hours to halve in pressure. So even small structural failures aren't necessarily catastrophic.

Offline Rei

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #33 on: 02/01/2017 08:37 AM »
There are plants that thrive on quite low light levels, if not growing rapidly. They should help with maintaining air quality too.

Yes, houseplants.  Which do not produce anything useful, either in terms of edible matter or oxygen.  Not because they need "genetic improvement" or anything, they're already quite skilled at what they do, which is, as understory plants: manage to survive on the miniscule amounts of light reaching them.  There's orders of magnitude too little light in normal house lighting to do anything useful with, with the possible exception of slowly growing lanky herbs, at a rate a tiny fraction you'd get under proper lighting.

People who have no experience with growing plants under full artificial lighting always underestimate how much light comes from the sun vs. room lighting, because our eyes make orders of magnitude differences in light energy seem like linear differences.  To match the light output of the sun when it's overhead with 60W CFLs that had perfect reflectors and no stray light waste (which never happens), assuming a ~12% PAR efficiency (note: not luminous efficiency), you'd have to hang 139 of them per square meter. 

The sun is freaking bright.  And it's that energy that allows plants to store energy and thus make things with calories for us to consume, and to produce oxygen for us to breathe, and so forth.  And you don't want these sorts of lights around you all the time, they're blinding.  Literally, as you may be aware of from the sun.  Now, that's not so much of a problem with the sun in that it's so high in the sky, but ceiling lights are not nearly so out of your line of sight.  Accidentally get a good look at a modern LED grow light and it'll have you seeing pink for the next five minutes.  That's right, LED grow lights are not white, they're pink (red + blue), very much not a soothing light tone.  You can grow under "white" LEDs (there actually is no such thing, they put a phosphor over a colored LED), but it significantly costs you in terms of power consumed per unit growth.  The light even plays havoc with cameras, pictures look horribly washed out in it.

(Note that I haven't even covered the weight of these sorts of things... they're like bricks.  LEDs need serious cooling to get good efficiency and longevity.  You could make them lighter with advanced materials and cooling systems, but it'll never be some sort of trivial shipping mass.  Oh, and the fan noise, didn't even get into that one either... or the leaf litter.... or...)

Also, most people who have not done so totally underestimate the problems of having vast numbers of plants in your living space.  One problem that's bitten me many times: moisture rising to (and through) the ceiling, freezing out on the roof, then raining down and doing all sorts of terrible damage from rot to electrical issues.  I'll never forget the day when I discovered that the reason my breaker box blew every time I turned on my bathroom light was because the light fixture was literally entirely filled with a foul brown water.  And the way I found out about that was because the fixture had gotten so heavy that it ripped off the ceiling and fell to the floor, shattering.

A special rec room "jungle"?  Sure, by all means.  But you don't pack your living space with plants.  Some random houseplants, sure, but there are limits to what's reasonable.
« Last Edit: 02/01/2017 08:42 AM by Rei »

Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #34 on: 02/01/2017 09:32 AM »
I fully agree. Having run a marine aquarium which needs a LOT of light for the corals to grow, I do have some idea what that takes.

I was thinking about decorative plants and maybe a few herbs, with a little, but not too much added lighting. When I mentioned cleaning the air, I am not too sure. I did not think of producing O2 or reducing CO2. More like assimilating trace gases. It is claimed that some of the low light plants are good at that, though I am not certain those claims are true.

Online Semmel

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #35 on: 02/01/2017 10:48 AM »
Fantastic post, Rei. Thank you!

While we are at it, where does the nitrogen for the plants come from? On earth, fertilizer nitrogen comes either from the air or is mainly mined from ancient birds poo. I heard people say before "There is nitrogen on Mars".. so yeah the atmosphere has about 2%, is that enough for a byproduct of a fuel plant? Argon is there as well, might be nice as a replacement for nitrogen in air as well.

Offline chalz

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #36 on: 02/01/2017 11:43 AM »
Fantastic post, Rei. Thank you!

While we are at it, where does the nitrogen for the plants come from? On earth, fertilizer nitrogen comes either from the air or is mainly mined from ancient birds poo. I heard people say before "There is nitrogen on Mars".. so yeah the atmosphere has about 2%, is that enough for a byproduct of a fuel plant? Argon is there as well, might be nice as a replacement for nitrogen in air as well.

Soil bacteria take it out of the air and put it back. But also sometimes lighting does it thus.

Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #37 on: 02/01/2017 11:55 AM »
Fortunately the martian atmosphere contains nitrogen. There will be plenty of it as a byproduct of fuel ISRU.

Making fertilizer will use the Haber Bosch process to produce ammonia.

Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #38 on: 02/01/2017 02:18 PM »
I fully agree. Having run a marine aquarium which needs a LOT of light for the corals to grow, I do have some idea what that takes.

I was thinking about decorative plants and maybe a few herbs, with a little, but not too much added lighting. When I mentioned cleaning the air, I am not too sure. I did not think of producing O2 or reducing CO2. More like assimilating trace gases. It is claimed that some of the low light plants are good at that, though I am not certain those claims are true.

I would go a bit further. Tomatoes and chili-plants are both quite easy to grow indoors (some fluescent lights or LEDs are enough), and it already works. A bit more technically advanced are hydroponics and areoponics, but they are still easily maintainable.

And don't underestimate these plants in regards of food production. A few kilograms per year are easily achieveable. That seems to be just 1-3% of the yearly food requirement, but it gives a good feeling, having a small very private vegetable production.

Offline colbourne

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #39 on: 02/02/2017 04:09 AM »
We can have dry areas for sensitive equipment, probably in a totally separate dome or tunnel, but is should be not beyond our technology to make waterproof equipment for the forest enclosures. People choose to live and sleep where they feel most comfortable.
Lighting can be by mirrors using natural sunlight to supplement areas where artificial electric lighting is required.

I agree that it probably would be best to not send pandas, as it will inevitably come to the point where they are used for food, which might lead to a massive public outcry on Earth against the horrible Martians :)

Offline high road

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #40 on: 02/02/2017 09:40 AM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.

1g gravity might also turn out to be important.

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #41 on: 02/02/2017 05:36 PM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.

1g gravity might also turn out to be important.

Have you ever tried to break bamboo scrimber - engineered wood made from bamboo? It has comparable mechanical properties to good timber. Little to no structural pine, oak or ash needed on Mars folks.
« Last Edit: 02/02/2017 05:43 PM by docmordrid »
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Offline TripD

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #42 on: 02/03/2017 02:33 AM »
All the hip colonists will be sporting martian Ikea!  8)

Offline high road

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #43 on: 02/03/2017 06:19 AM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.

1g gravity might also turn out to be important.

Have you ever tried to break bamboo scrimber - engineered wood made from bamboo? It has comparable mechanical properties to good timber. Little to no structural pine, oak or ash needed on Mars folks.

How much bamboo have we grown under 38%g? Must have missed that experiment. And where is the resin coming from on Mars?

Offline JamesH65

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #44 on: 02/03/2017 10:12 AM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.

1g gravity might also turn out to be important.

Have you ever tried to break bamboo scrimber - engineered wood made from bamboo? It has comparable mechanical properties to good timber. Little to no structural pine, oak or ash needed on Mars folks.

How much bamboo have we grown under 38%g? Must have missed that experiment. And where is the resin coming from on Mars?

Resin can be sent from Earth until production can be done on Mars, and bamboo growth can be tested once on Mars. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. That's going to be the case for lots of stuff. Mars is, for the first decades, an experiment.

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #45 on: 02/03/2017 12:47 PM »
How much bamboo have we grown under 38%g? Must have missed that experiment. And where is the resin coming from on Mars?
At least some of these techniques could be tested on the ISS, if it works at zero-g it's a pretty good bet it works on mars.
That seems an interesting thing to try. I googled and didn't find much. One reference of bamboo shoots on the ISS only.

Online Phil Stooke

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #46 on: 02/03/2017 01:20 PM »
"I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time."

I see why one might think this, but do we have a controlled experiment to back it up?

Offline jpo234

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #47 on: 02/03/2017 01:45 PM »
"I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time."

I see why one might think this, but do we have a controlled experiment to back it up?

And how strong does the wood have to be? Mars has lower gravity, so things weight a lot less. So, if you are going to use the wood to make a chair, it could be perfectly usable on Mars even if it would break on Earth...
« Last Edit: 02/03/2017 01:46 PM by jpo234 »

Offline Rei

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #48 on: 02/03/2017 04:48 PM »
Re, wind: I've tried various amounts of wind in my "jungle".  Wind is not necessary for growth, although it is as noted a way to get improved strength, indoor trees can sometimes tend to be a bit weak.  I find a lot more of an effect of wind on the soil. I have to water small pots daily and large pots once every 3-6 days if I have wind, but without it even small pots can go for many days without watering.  Which is both good and bad; it's often good to cycle your soil between wet and dry.

Of course, this isn't directly applicable to environments where you use hydroponics.

What resin are you talking about?  As a composite binder?  Look into EVA.  Relatively simple as far as ISRU goes.  PE is even easier (in fact, a system for producing PE from Sabatier-process syngas with intent for use on Mars has already been developed), although its properties as a composite binder aren't very impressive.  PE works better as fibres than as a binder (namely UHMWPE, gel spun - aka, Dyneema/Spectra).  EVA has a whole related family of polymers that basically "come with" the production process; PVA is EVA without ethylene as a copolymer; and EVOH/PVOH are hydrolyzed EVA/PVA, respectively.  Between them you have everything from water soluble polymers (lubricants, dissolvable 3d printing substrates, etc) to hot glue, liquid glues, tackifiers, foam rubber, gas barrier films, and a bunch of other things. The key monomer is vinyl acetate, which is made by oxidizing acetic acid over a palladium catalyst.  Acetic acid, in addition to to the obvious (but low volume) means of making it from bacterial fermentation of sugars, can be made from ethylene (which you need anyway), or a variety of other things (for example, methanol plus carbon monoxide; methanol can be made straight from syngas)
« Last Edit: 02/03/2017 04:55 PM by Rei »

Offline Rei

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #49 on: 02/03/2017 05:07 PM »
Also, note that just because something is ISRU doesn't mean that it's Earth input-free.  For example, for polyethylene:  with the exception of gas-phase polymerization (which the aforementioned system was not), your catalyst actually ends up in the polymer itself, and is thus used up (gas phase polymerization is more complicated, it's prone to accidentally turning the core of the unit into a big block of plastic if temperatures aren't controlled right  ;) ).  Even in the case where catalysts aren't directly consumed, they often still need to be renewed or replaced after a given length of time.  And other parts all have their own wear and tear that needs to be dealt with.

But, of course, the reasonable approach isn't "complete self sufficiency"; it's all about import reduction.  At least in the short to mid term.
« Last Edit: 02/03/2017 05:09 PM by Rei »

Offline JasonAW3

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #50 on: 02/03/2017 05:40 PM »
It occurs to me that different types of trees can produce different types of sap that can harden into some very strong resins.  Whether or not these resins can be used as a binding agent for things exposed to direct, or near vacuum conditions, is problematic, as I've never come across any research into this.

     It does make me consider that plant and tree structures, such as bamboo and pine trees, could, in fact, be quite useful on Mars, assuming that these materials, when combines, with only minor additional treatments and additional chemistry, could be useful in construction of structures on Mars.  Again, whether or not they can be used to create pressurized structures, could be a subject of some research.
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Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #51 on: 02/03/2017 09:44 PM »
Bamboo like wood contains lignin which might be usable. If some of the bamboo would be used for paper and other cellulose products there should be an excess of lignin to be used for creating bamboo wood products, assuming it is usable or can be converted to a usable binder.

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #52 on: 02/04/2017 02:11 AM »
I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time.
O
1g gravity might also turn out to be important.

Have you ever tried to break bamboo scrimber - engineered wood made from bamboo? It has comparable mechanical properties to good timber. Little to no structural pine, oak or ash needed on Mars folks.

How much bamboo have we grown under 38%g? Must have missed that experiment.

None, but that's what first missions are for.

Quote
And where is the resin coming from on Mars?

Any chemical infrastructure should be able to make ethylene since it's used in numerous processes. Add vinegar (acetic acid) derived from the garden and a palladium catalyst and you get polyvinyl acetate, PVA, the basis of the most common wood glues; Elmer's etc. and they can be used to make wood laminates.

There are also e. coli modified to produce an adhesive similar to what mollusks use to attach themselves. Add soy protein and you have a helluva adhesive.

After that, there are traditional adhesives native Americans and colonists made from natural materials - some quite strong. Casein, collagen etc.
« Last Edit: 02/05/2017 02:06 PM by docmordrid »
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Offline nacnud

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #53 on: 02/04/2017 02:22 AM »
"I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time."

I see why one might think this, but do we have a controlled experiment to back it up?

Houseplants grow well enough, I think wind is a non issue.

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #54 on: 02/05/2017 10:16 AM »
"I think to grow strong wood you also need wind from time to time."

I see why one might think this, but do we have a controlled experiment to back it up?

Houseplants grow well enough, I think wind is a non issue.

Rei already provided insight from experiments with controlled conditions for wind.

Offline nacnud

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #55 on: 02/05/2017 10:37 AM »
ooops, must learn to read

Offline CraigLieb

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #56 on: 03/06/2017 05:21 PM »
Fantastic post, Rei. Thank you!

While we are at it, where does the nitrogen for the plants come from? On earth, fertilizer nitrogen comes either from the air or is mainly mined from ancient birds poo. I heard people say before "There is nitrogen on Mars".. so yeah the atmosphere has about 2%, is that enough for a byproduct of a fuel plant? Argon is there as well, might be nice as a replacement for nitrogen in air as well.

Soil bacteria take it out of the air and put it back. But also sometimes lighting does it thus.

Aquaponics... fish produce lots of nitrogen!
Irrigate the plants with recycled fish "water".
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Offline sghill

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #57 on: 03/06/2017 08:03 PM »
Fantastic post, Rei. Thank you!

While we are at it, where does the nitrogen for the plants come from? On earth, fertilizer nitrogen comes either from the air or is mainly mined from ancient birds poo. I heard people say before "There is nitrogen on Mars".. so yeah the atmosphere has about 2%, is that enough for a byproduct of a fuel plant? Argon is there as well, might be nice as a replacement for nitrogen in air as well.

Soil bacteria take it out of the air and put it back. But also sometimes lighting does it thus.

Aquaponics... fish produce lots of nitrogen!
Irrigate the plants with recycled fish "water".

I've got an aquaponics tank in my kitchen right now with a goldfish, some mini bamboo and some other decorative plants.  Haven't changed the water in over a year. The plants love fish pee and the goldfish happily munches on the plants.

I think very little external nitrogen will be needed in a living-cycle-system so long as the colony is pressurized with a high atmospheric nitrogen content.

And as far as bamboo is concerned, some types are so fast growing that shipping seeds to your martian dome and then waiting a few months will be the most efficient means of obtaining bamboo up there.
« Last Edit: 03/06/2017 08:05 PM by sghill »
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Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #58 on: 03/06/2017 08:33 PM »
I've got an aquaponics tank in my kitchen right now with a goldfish, some mini bamboo and some other decorative plants. 



You mean this? That's a betta splendens.  ;)


Offline spacenut

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #59 on: 03/06/2017 08:36 PM »
Tilapia are algae eaters, and their waste can be used to grow plants, through a pump system.  People can eat the plants or use the bamboo for wood materials.  Bamboo is made into flooring, cutting boards, and furniture today.  It will have it's use on Mars as well as algae, tilapia, and other eatable plants, fruit, and nut trees.  Fruit trees are usually small trees, less than 20' high.  Nut trees are taller.  Blueberries are on a bush.  So the first "forest" on Mars will probably be bamboo and some fruit trees.  Waste wood can be made into toilet paper, unless there is enough water for bidets. 

For inside Martian forests, trees can include orange, apple, peach, pear, plum, and persimmon, that I can think off off the top of my head.  This is not counting bamboo.  Then you have blue berry bushes.  Then you have grape, muskidine, and  blackberry vines.  Of course there is strawberry plants that can be grown indoors. 

There must be variety to keep peoples palates from being boring. 

Small plants first, then the small trees and bamboo.  Plants are easy, they can all be brought in seed form.  Animals and fish, another story. 
« Last Edit: 03/06/2017 08:42 PM by spacenut »

Offline Rei

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #60 on: 03/06/2017 08:43 PM »
The problem with plant products whenever I start considering them is that you can always get much more production with synthetics for a given amount of mass shipped from Earth (at least in the near term).  A small UHMWPE powder production system can produce more polyethylene in an hour than the equivalent mass of hydroponics system could produce bamboo in a year.

Offline RonM

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #61 on: 03/06/2017 09:24 PM »
The problem with plant products whenever I start considering them is that you can always get much more production with synthetics for a given amount of mass shipped from Earth (at least in the near term).  A small UHMWPE powder production system can produce more polyethylene in an hour than the equivalent mass of hydroponics system could produce bamboo in a year.

The idea is to minimize shipping supplies from Earth by producing products at the colony.

Where does the colony get the ethylene to produce UHMWPE powder? Ethylene can be synthesised from ethanol and sulfuric acid or ethanol and aluminum oxide, but where do those come from? Ethanol is produced during fermentation via yeast and sugars. Best way to produce sugar is growing sugar beets or sugarcane, so it looks like we're back to growing plants.

Offline punder

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #62 on: 03/06/2017 09:33 PM »
Ethanol is produced during fermentation via yeast and sugars. Best way to produce sugar is growing sugar beets or sugarcane, so it looks like we're back to growing plants.

In that case, problem solved, because ethanol is always one of the very first chemicals produced by humans colonizing a new location.   ;)

Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #63 on: 03/06/2017 10:09 PM »
Bamboo is made into flooring, cutting boards, and furniture today. 

Not to forget, socks. Bamboo can be processed to make clothing.

Small plants first, then the small trees and bamboo.  Plants are easy, they can all be brought in seed form.  Animals and fish, another story.

Fish eggs can be transported frozen too. Very likely even chicken eggs.

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: Martian forest
« Reply #64 on: 03/06/2017 11:07 PM »
People can eat the plants or use the bamboo for wood materials.

Bamboo shoots can also be eaten; a common vegetable in many parts of Asia.

Bamboo is made into flooring, cutting boards, and furniture today. 

Not to forget, socks. Bamboo can be processed to make clothing.

And bedding (in fact, the entire bed!), towels or drapes. It can also be used for utensils like spoons and chopsticks, blinds, brushes, parasols (if you need to keep the sun off!), sinks & bathtubs, sugar (similarly to sugar cane), beverages (beer, wine & tea), beehives (if you need bees!), musical instruments (flutes and drums), rope, containers (and can be woven into baskets like rattan or reeds). If you have animals it can be used as fodder or fencing. Quite versatile stuff.

Offline colbourne

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Offline Rei

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #66 on: 03/07/2017 11:48 AM »
The idea is to minimize shipping supplies from Earth by producing products at the colony.

Where does the colony get the ethylene to produce UHMWPE powder?

Systems for in-situ production of UHWMPE on Mars are not theoretical, they've already been built. Ethylene is produced from the partial oxidation of methane in a microreactor cascade.  It can also be produced direct from syngas.

Note that there still are consumables. For example, in a prototype Mars UHMWPE system designed for producing a UHMWPE/aggregate concrete substitute , they were using liquid phase polymerization, wherein the catalyst ends up (in tiny quantities) in the plastic.  But there's also gas phase polymerization options where it doesn't. And in any system there's always going to be some consumables. Agriculture is absolutely no exception.  The production rate difference, however, is massive.
« Last Edit: 03/07/2017 01:13 PM by Rei »

Offline bregallad

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Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #68 on: 03/07/2017 03:55 PM »
Where does the colony get the ethylene to produce UHMWPE powder?

There is research in an advanced stage to convert methane to ethylene. The driver for this research is the methane byproduct of oil wells. In many areas there is no infrastructure to transport the methane and it is still being burned off. Catalytic transformation of methane to ethylene can eliminate that waste. Very useful on Mars too.

Offline RonM

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #69 on: 03/07/2017 04:08 PM »
Where does the colony get the ethylene to produce UHMWPE powder?

There is research in an advanced stage to convert methane to ethylene. The driver for this research is the methane byproduct of oil wells. In many areas there is no infrastructure to transport the methane and it is still being burned off. Catalytic transformation of methane to ethylene can eliminate that waste. Very useful on Mars too.


Systems for in-situ production of UHWMPE on Mars are not theoretical, they've already been built. Ethylene is produced from the partial oxidation of methane in a microreactor cascade.  It can also be produced direct from syngas.

Note that there still are consumables. For example, in a prototype Mars UHMWPE system designed for producing a UHMWPE/aggregate concrete substitute , they were using liquid phase polymerization, wherein the catalyst ends up (in tiny quantities) in the plastic.  But there's also gas phase polymerization options where it doesn't. And in any system there's always going to be some consumables. Agriculture is absolutely no exception.  The production rate difference, however, is massive.

That sounds good. Those should be mature technologies by the time they're needed on Mars.

So growing construction materials won't be needed, but it would be nice to have a small grove to make a colony more livable.

Online guckyfan

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #70 on: 03/07/2017 04:22 PM »
So growing construction materials won't be needed, but it would be nice to have a small grove to make a colony more livable.

Having things like chopping boards and some furniture items from bamboo would make a habitat a lot more livable, even when plastic is cheaper. Fast growing bamboo can play a major role. Paper too, think nappies.

Offline Rei

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #71 on: 03/08/2017 09:10 AM »
If you have an interest in chemical processes, by the way, I strongly recommend Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry.  Google it along with any random chemical to see in detail how it and all of its feedstocks are made  :)  Assuming you have access (or if not, then assuming you're willing to use sci-hub  ;)  )

Offline colbourne

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #72 on: 03/15/2017 01:49 AM »
I guess whether to grow plants or artificially create plastics will all depend on which has the least requirements for mass shipped from Earth including required spare parts.
 I think it has been stated that plants will grow best under solar powered LEDs rather than natural light for the same energy input. The mass required to be shipped will be higher under LEDSs if on the surface. If we can find suitable tunnels this may not be true. How much energy is required to create a Kg of ethylene from water and the Mars  atmosphere ?

Offline Rei

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #73 on: 03/15/2017 10:35 AM »
I guess whether to grow plants or artificially create plastics will all depend on which has the least requirements for mass shipped from Earth including required spare parts.
 I think it has been stated that plants will grow best under solar powered LEDs rather than natural light for the same energy input. The mass required to be shipped will be higher under LEDSs if on the surface. If we can find suitable tunnels this may not be true. How much energy is required to create a Kg of ethylene from water and the Mars  atmosphere ?

Plants are horribly inefficient converters of energy, plus even LED lights are quite wastefu, so it's compounding major losses upon major losses.  Plants are generally 0.1-2% efficient at turning solar energy into stored biomass energy..  LED grow lights may end up with about 30% of their input electricity kicked off as PAR (or less).  Typical solar panels are under 20% efficient, although super-expensive multijunction can get over 30%.  But let's leave solar off since both routes need power; you're looking at less than 1% efficiency, potentially far less. With external power demands (climate control, water pumps, etc) to boot.  So if you were to take a 0.5% efficient plant (I don't know how efficient bamboo is) and 30% efficient lights, then burned the resulting biomass,  you'd get 0,15% * (thermal energy recovery efficiency) of your energy back.

For plastics: a PEM electrolyser without heat recovery can make hydrogen and oxygen for ~60% efficiency; alkaline, more like 50%.  These numbers are rising.  All other reactions (sabatier synthesis, methane oxidation to ethylene, ethylene polymerization) are exothermic; they don't need additional energy input. They're also highly selective (aka, only small amounts of non-target products that need to be regassified).  So if you burned the polyethylene, and combined that with the heat given off of the production reactions, you'd get 50-60% * (thermal energy recovery efficiency) of your energy back. Even better, actually, because you could also use waste heat from the electrolysis itself.  It might be tempting to say "Well, what about the plants' losses, why can't you recover them thermally?" - except that because plant metabolism is so slow, they never result in the plant reaching temperatures significantly different from ambient, so there's no meaningful efficiency for recovery under Carnot's law.
« Last Edit: 03/15/2017 10:58 AM by Rei »

Offline colbourne

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #74 on: 04/19/2017 07:47 AM »
http://newatlas.com/ford-bamboo/49048/?utm_source=Gizmag+Subscribers&utm_campaign=6bf0f5cf05-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-6bf0f5cf05-90223594

"According to Ford, bamboo performed significantly better than other synthetic and natural materials when subjected to both tensile strength and impact strength tests. In its pure, natural form, however, it can't be molded into specific shapes. That's why the automaker has combined bamboo fibers with plastic, to form a composite known as Bamboo 2."

With the availability of cheap polythene and similar mentioned above we can mass produce domes to grow our forest...

Offline joshab

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #75 on: 04/20/2017 01:22 AM »
          Yes, I believe we can expect to see bamboo and plant life like bamboo in the mid years of the Mars missions due to it's limitless usefulness. Any plant life would put us as humans well on our way to colonization.  :)

Offline IntoTheVoid

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #76 on: 04/22/2017 05:15 AM »
One escaped panda goin' rogue could destroy the colony!

If I live to see the day when cargo deliveries to other planets include live pandas, I'll consider that "mission accomplished"  ;)

Pandas are unlikely to go to Mars for reasons other than bamboo protection...
ITAR, since the pandas are all Chinese.

Offline MickQ

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #77 on: 04/22/2017 08:33 AM »
What about any born and raised in U.S. zoos . Won't they be U.S. citizens?

Offline IntoTheVoid

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Re: Martian forest
« Reply #78 on: 04/22/2017 03:20 PM »
What about any born and raised in U.S. zoos . Won't they be U.S. citizens?
No. Pandas aren't sold, they are always only on loan, and all Panda loan agreements include stipulations that all offspring are the property of China.

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