Author Topic: Martian forest  (Read 15107 times)

Offline Rei

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 471
  • Iceland
  • Liked: 183
  • Likes Given: 58
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

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 168
  • Austrangia
  • Liked: 77
  • Likes Given: 999
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.

Offline guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6377
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1605
  • Likes Given: 1410
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 474
  • Australia.
  • Liked: 45
  • Likes Given: 130
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

  • Member
  • Posts: 1
  • NSW, Australia
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 1
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.

Offline guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6377
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1605
  • Likes Given: 1410
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

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4279
  • Michigan
  • Liked: 1431
  • Likes Given: 1
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.
DM

Offline Dalhousie

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2068
  • Liked: 255
  • Likes Given: 309
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.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline docmordrid

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4279
  • Michigan
  • Liked: 1431
  • Likes Given: 1
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1025
  • Liked: 1416
  • Likes Given: 229
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.

Online nacnud

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1952
  • Liked: 184
  • Likes Given: 136
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

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3533
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2083
  • Likes Given: 2460
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.

Online envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2703
  • Liked: 1244
  • Likes Given: 777
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 471
  • Iceland
  • Liked: 183
  • Likes Given: 58
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 »

Offline guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6377
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1605
  • Likes Given: 1410
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1112
  • Germany
  • Liked: 791
  • Likes Given: 2261
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

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 168
  • Austrangia
  • Liked: 77
  • Likes Given: 999
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.

Offline guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6377
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1605
  • Likes Given: 1410
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

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 339
  • Austria
  • Liked: 64
  • Likes Given: 39
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

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 296
  • Liked: 18
  • Likes Given: 6
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 :)

Tags: