Author Topic: Scaling Agriculture on Mars  (Read 225188 times)

Online KelvinZero

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1180 on: 04/06/2018 03:31 AM »
Moved this from SpaceX thread.

"Clean meat (BBC)"


And also pasted docmordid's reply.

Plant based meat substitutes tend to have 2 problems: many of the better ones are based on glutens, which make many peoplei ill, and in order to have an acceptable taste they contain ridiculous levels of sodium chloride.

Bioengineered meat; any chef will tell you the animal cell culture isn't near enough.The flavor is from the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars, and the thermal degradation of a complex brew of animal lipids and collagens. Need to synthesize those too, and in the proper proportions. Some "meats" will need more collagen, as in roasts and stewing meats.

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1181 on: 04/13/2018 08:46 PM »
China’s pioneers to the moon will be flowers and silkworms

https://qz.com/1251821/chinas-pioneers-to-the-far-side-of-the-moon-on-the-change-4-will-be-flowers-and-silkworms/

Moon related, but it makes sense: artificial ecology in a box first, before a greenhouse

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1182 on: 04/13/2018 10:48 PM »
TOP TOMATOES THANKS TO MARS MISSIONS

https://spacesolutions.esa.int/technology-transfer/success-story/top-tomatoes-thanks-mars-missions

To an agronomist's eye the innovation is that they test the water weekly, as opposed to seasonally.

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1183 on: 04/14/2018 05:49 AM »
Moved this from SpaceX thread.

"Clean meat (BBC)"


And also pasted docmordid's reply.

Plant based meat substitutes tend to have 2 problems: many of the better ones are based on glutens, which make many peoplei ill, and in order to have an acceptable taste they contain ridiculous levels of sodium chloride.

Bioengineered meat; any chef will tell you the animal cell culture isn't near enough.The flavor is from the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars, and the thermal degradation of a complex brew of animal lipids and collagens. Need to synthesize those too, and in the proper proportions. Some "meats" will need more collagen, as in roasts and stewing meats.

One of the better descriptions of the real issues with lab grown meat. Honestly, people project to Mars the most futuristic way to get everything even if this is not always practical. For one thing MELiSSA has found that the best way to pack food to carry and eat on exploration is to turn it into bars. This is anything but innovative: pastelli, a kind of bar made from sesame and honey, was the standard meal of ancient Greek armies. MELiSSA's bar are nothing but a modernization. I think the same will be with the rest of the food growing complex: adaptation of what is grown on earth, not complete innovation

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1184 on: 04/14/2018 07:13 PM »
Sure, but it's important to note a big difference between Earth and Mars is Earth has access to vast, pressurized, warm places to grow wheat from sunlight. Mars can't grow nothing on the surface. Everything needs to be inside expensive pressure vessels. Windows in pressure vessels are an expensive liability, so it's kind of a toss-up between natural lighting using windows or instead using LED lighting (using solar or nuclear power).

Additionally, photosynthesis is not very efficient, especially if you're starting with electricity. For the same amount of power, you can produce about 10 times as much food calories by synthesizing hydrogen and/or methane for hydrogenotrophic or methanotrophic bactera to grow food than by growing plants with LED lighting. Since most calories are going to be made into flour or oil or something like that anyway, you might as well grow that in vats.

You wouldn't do that on Earth because you have vast fields to grow rice, corn, wheat, soybeans, or potatoes in so efficiency isn't so critical.

But sure, I agree we'll be eating bars and stuff, not necessarily "3D printed steaks" or something like that. And hydroponic veggies (which is already super common on Earth, so might as well).
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Online sanman

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1185 on: 04/14/2018 09:12 PM »
Sure, but it's important to note a big difference between Earth and Mars is Earth has access to vast, pressurized, warm places to grow wheat from sunlight. Mars can't grow nothing on the surface. Everything needs to be inside expensive pressure vessels. Windows in pressure vessels are an expensive liability, so it's kind of a toss-up between natural lighting using windows or instead using LED lighting (using solar or nuclear power).

What about large transparent pressurized tents? They could stop the UV while letting in visible and infrared, like a greenhouse does.

Offline Paul451

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1186 on: 04/14/2018 11:58 PM »
What about large transparent pressurized tents? They could stop the UV while letting in visible and infrared, like a greenhouse does.

It's been discussed/debated endlessly before. You might be able to create a thin-film pressure vessel that can sustain the required pressure, but if you don't insulate it, it will freeze at night, especially in local-winter. Mars' thin atmosphere is just thick enough for convective cooling to dominate heat loss. So you'd need multiple insulating layers, which then eats away at your already reduced sunlight. Or you need large insulating structures to close at night or some kind of heat-storage and transport system, either of which adds to your maintenance burden.

In the end, IMO, the easiest option is probably to just add more power and grow under optimised LEDs in a decently protected module.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1187 on: 04/15/2018 12:37 AM »
What about large transparent pressurized tents? They could stop the UV while letting in visible and infrared, like a greenhouse does.

It's been discussed/debated endlessly before. You might be able to create a thin-film pressure vessel that can sustain the required pressure, but if you don't insulate it, it will freeze at night, especially in local-winter. Mars' thin atmosphere is just thick enough for convective cooling to dominate heat loss. So you'd need multiple insulating layers, which then eats away at your already reduced sunlight. Or you need large insulating structures to close at night or some kind of heat-storage and transport system, either of which adds to your maintenance burden.

In the end, IMO, the easiest option is probably to just add more power and grow under optimised LEDs in a decently protected module.
There may be some of both. I think people would like to see Mars through windows and also have greenery around, so even if a lot of the food is grown in vats or with LED lighting, I can definitely see some food grown in more regular greenhouses just because it's nice.
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Online sanman

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1188 on: 04/15/2018 01:39 AM »
It's been discussed/debated endlessly before. You might be able to create a thin-film pressure vessel that can sustain the required pressure, but if you don't insulate it, it will freeze at night, especially in local-winter. Mars' thin atmosphere is just thick enough for convective cooling to dominate heat loss. So you'd need multiple insulating layers, which then eats away at your already reduced sunlight. Or you need large insulating structures to close at night or some kind of heat-storage and transport system, either of which adds to your maintenance burden.

In the end, IMO, the easiest option is probably to just add more power and grow under optimised LEDs in a decently protected module.

Maybe you just need heating wires embedded into your tent layer. Or have infrared lamps shining on the tent walls. Or have the tent layer itself be inflatable double-wall filled with CO2 or some other gas with a low enough dew point (nitrogen?). Have internal convection or circulation that helps warm the walls.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1189 on: 04/15/2018 02:32 AM »
It's been discussed/debated endlessly before. You might be able to create a thin-film pressure vessel that can sustain the required pressure, but if you don't insulate it, it will freeze at night, especially in local-winter. Mars' thin atmosphere is just thick enough for convective cooling to dominate heat loss. So you'd need multiple insulating layers, which then eats away at your already reduced sunlight. Or you need large insulating structures to close at night or some kind of heat-storage and transport system, either of which adds to your maintenance burden.

In the end, IMO, the easiest option is probably to just add more power and grow under optimised LEDs in a decently protected module.

Maybe you just need heating wires embedded into your tent layer. Or have infrared lamps shining on the tent walls. Or have the tent layer itself be inflatable double-wall filled with CO2 or some other gas with a low enough dew point (nitrogen?). Have internal convection or circulation that helps warm the walls.

You know what's just as effective as heating wires (in a reflective tent)? LED lights. With the benefit of helping your plants grow.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline spacenut

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1190 on: 04/15/2018 02:56 AM »
You would be surprised as to how little space is needed to grow most vegetables.  Wheat, corn, and rice take the most space.  Even then, a space of about 100'x 200' can grow enough wheat for a family of 4 for a year.  A 10' x 10' space can probably grow enough potatoes for the same family. 

Protein, or meat, is going to be the hardest to grow initially.  Tilapia being the exception, then small animals. 

In WWII backyard Victory Gardens produced 40% of Americas food.  Not bad and not a lot of space needed.  This is just seasonal food grown during the summers.  In greenhouses this productivity in a small space can triple. 

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1191 on: 04/16/2018 05:58 AM »
Protein, or meat, is going to be the hardest to grow initially.  Tilapia being the exception, then small animals.
You can get adequate protein from plants and fungi. Spirulina and nutritional yeast can be grown in vats, and mushrooms are often brought up in such discussions. Then there's insects, which are very efficient at producing protein. Of course, there's the problem of cultural acceptability - solved by only selecting people who don't have that problem!

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1192 on: 04/16/2018 07:00 AM »
You would be surprised as to how little space is needed to grow most vegetables.  Wheat, corn, and rice take the most space.  Even then, a space of about 100'x 200' can grow enough wheat for a family of 4 for a year.  A 10' x 10' space can probably grow enough potatoes for the same family. 

Protein, or meat, is going to be the hardest to grow initially.  Tilapia being the exception, then small animals. 

In WWII backyard Victory Gardens produced 40% of Americas food.  Not bad and not a lot of space needed.  This is just seasonal food grown during the summers.  In greenhouses this productivity in a small space can triple.
Since we have so many people interested in the subject has anyone actually tried to live on potatoes for a year?

Just 365 days on potatoes as your only source of carbohydrates and some multivitamins for the RDA's?

Let me suggest you can have condiments and cooking oil. That'll give you boiled, fried, mashed and salad.
Bon appetite.

BTW regarding "greenhouses." Let me suggest people split the problem in to a thin, tough, transparent membrane for the pressure vessel and basically a box of lightweight insulation with an inner reflective layer.
An interesting option would be if it's a plastic foam with CO2 or Argon as the blowing agent it should freeze out (at least in the outer layers), like the common bulkhead in the Centaur stage. This is effective enough to stop LH2 boiloff from the LO2 in contact with the other side of the bulkhead.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1193 on: 04/16/2018 07:46 AM »
They may not need real insulation with the thin martian atmosphere. A tough membrane, reenforced by a net of strong fibers like Kevlar. Outside with a UV-resistant coating, or UV resistant material. Inside with a infrared reflecting coating to keep heat in might do most temperature regulation together with water or regolith buffer mass to keep temperatures stable over night.

Offline speedevil

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1194 on: 04/16/2018 08:42 AM »
You would be surprised as to how little space is needed to grow most vegetables.  Wheat, corn, and rice take the most space.  Even then, a space of about 100'x 200' can grow enough wheat for a family of 4 for a year.  A 10' x 10' space can probably grow enough potatoes for the same family. 
Common really good harvests are around 50 tons/hectare for potatos - 4.5kg/m^2, or 40 kilos in a hundred square feet, or 29000kcal, or about 3 days caloric requirements.

100'*100' - sure.




Offline john smith 19

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1195 on: 04/16/2018 11:34 AM »
You would be surprised as to how little space is needed to grow most vegetables.  Wheat, corn, and rice take the most space.  Even then, a space of about 100'x 200' can grow enough wheat for a family of 4 for a year.  A 10' x 10' space can probably grow enough potatoes for the same family. 
Common really good harvests are around 50 tons/hectare for potatos - 4.5kg/m^2, or 40 kilos in a hundred square feet, or 29000kcal, or about 3 days caloric requirements.

100'*100' - sure.
"29000kcal, or about 3 days caloric requirements."
What??

If those are kilo calories then 290 000 should be good for about 120 days at 2400Kcs/day for a man.
Can you do 3 crops a year on Mars with or without artificial lighting?

BTW one data point. The current largest Earth PV solar array isin "Longyangxia" park in China. It is 850MW. It backs up a large hydro electric scheme. Apparently the reduced water consumption is very attractive to the Chinese.

So with enough people, enough space suits and enough hardware pretty big arrays should be quite viable.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline speedevil

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1196 on: 04/16/2018 01:01 PM »
If those are kilo calories then 290 000 should be good for about 120 days at 2400Kcs/day for a man.
They're not.
Or, put another way, can you live on eighty grams of potato a day alone.

29000Kcal is 29000 'food calories', not 29 million.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1197 on: 04/16/2018 04:53 PM »
If those are kilo calories then 290 000 should be good for about 120 days at 2400Kcs/day for a man.
They're not.
Or, put another way, can you live on eighty grams of potato a day alone.

29000Kcal is 29000 'food calories', not 29 million.
OMG I mis-read that and added a zero.  :o
AFAIK 2400 Kc is the standard requirement for men so that's about 12 days,which looks too short for any kind of crop cycle to harvest.

BTW Crop rotation may sound terribly old fashioned but it's proven to work and research into more "optimum" cycles has continued for decades.

One thing to keep in mind in all this discussion is sustainability

What if all supplies from Earth really are cut off? Can you expand the settlement? Can you even maintain the settlement? A natural light system is much more robust in those circumstances.

While I think fish farming and hydroponics look like a good fit together the bottom line is dirt farming.

And converting Martian regolith to a safe viable plant growth medium, rather than something that's essentially bathroom cleaning scouring powder, is barely in lab work at present.  :(
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline speedevil

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1198 on: 04/16/2018 05:59 PM »
AFAIK 2400 Kc is the standard requirement for men so that's about 12 days,which looks too short for any kind of crop cycle to harvest.
<snip>
What if all supplies from Earth really are cut off? Can you expand the settlement? Can you even maintain the settlement? A natural light system is much more robust in those circumstances.

The above figure was yearly crop harvest.
Might you get >1crop under natural light - perhaps.

I am very unconvinced you can get any sustainable civilisation in a wholly sustainable manner, before your colony gets large enough that discussions around crops are quite irrelevant, as that's not the long pole.

As a bare minimum, you need to mine half the elements on the periodic table - for example - if you don't have neodynium, or at least samarium, your magnet performance - and hence motor efficiency and weight for small motors tanks, for example.
Pumping air/... needs a _lot_ of small motors.

Your average farmer can last maybe a couple of days without external fuel.
Perhaps a month or two without a critical spare part that will somewhat impact their efficiency, given fuel.
But in a couple of years, output will be a bare fraction of what it was, due to lack of fertiliser and other agrichemicals.
Careful managment may stop potato blight or other pathogens reaching Mars, but the environment is enormously more fragile, and if the ships stop coming, you need everything from magnets for motors to complex control circuits.
Going without them really hurts efficiency and reliability, and if your system wasn't designed to run without them, you're screwed.

With a hundred thousand people, I am unsure you can sustain a tech base of 1950s level on earth.

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1199 on: 04/16/2018 09:06 PM »
The MIT study debunking MarsOne noted that 80 m2 of growth space per resident was insufficient to produce sufficient calories. One foot is 31 cm, so 10' x 10' would be, 9-10 m2 for 4 people. Per the internet potato yield in South Africa in 34 t/ha. 1 ha is 10,000 m2, so at 10 m2 this would be 34 kgs. 1 kg of potatoes has per Doctor Google 767 kilocalories*34 kg = 26078 kcal. If a person eats 2,400 kcal per day, this would be 10,9 days. Now, we can grow three crops of potatoes per year in a place where the climate is sufficient such as Cyprus, so we have food for 32.6 days. If the family has 4 members, then after 8 days I assume that they will resort to cannibalism.

The same MIT study using NASA growth model that used more standard crops, calculated that MarsOne would need to use closer to 240 m2 of growth  space per person. Much as I don't like repeating myself ad nauseum, ESA MELiSSA's 9 crops are in my opinion the best choice for a crop model. I prefer natural AND artificial sunlight as opposed to everything in LED, if we use just artificial light then considering the efficiency of the solar cell and transmission we need 4 times the area of the greenhouse to have the same light as what is outside the greenhouse, and Mars insolation is similar to Northern Europe summer, enough for vegetative growth but not for crop production. Per Wikipedia chlorella production systems have a photosynthetic efficiency of 2.5% as opposed to typical field plants where it closer to 2%, the whole 8% photosynthetic efficiency is possible under lab environment but not under field environment. Furthermore per wikipedia eating 50 g/day of Single Cell Protein, and algae food qualifies as such is, is lethal to monogastric animals (a category to which humans belong). I did look it up though on Google Scholar, the SCP 50 g/day for monogastrics could not be confirmed, I did find a review paper that it is possible to eat 10% algae as animal feed, though it has effects that need to be managed. Algae costs 10 times as much as soy meal, so there hasn't been enough research to work out the kinks

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