Author Topic: Scaling Agriculture on Mars  (Read 239748 times)

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1300 on: 12/27/2018 02:20 am »
There's a juicy syn-beef made in part using leghemoglobin - a form of heme and other animal-like compounds sourced from soy and other plants. Available in some restaurants and growing, I've had one and it was pretty decent.

Not sure if I can name the product (Chris?), but it seems a useful tech which may move past "beef."
DM

Offline spacenut

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1301 on: 12/27/2018 02:42 am »
I am allergic to soy.  This could be hard for some great engineer/astronaut with a soy based protein allergy.  Many are allergic to milk and milk products.  Many allergic to tomatoes and tomato products.  The list goes on.  In the long run there has to be a large variety of foods somehow. 

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1302 on: 12/27/2018 06:47 am »
Differentiated cells take far longer than bacteria to multiply. Getting the right kind of cell to form depends on a large number of inputs, mostly chemical, that come from the environment. All this effort to create animal free meat requires a very high level of sophistication and experimentation, which is why it is so slow to get to the market. On the other hand, growing and reproducing mammals in space is TRL 9, think of the mouse-tronauts. It is quite philosophical on my part but I believe that Mars colonists will use methods similar to those used on earth now. Unless making lab meat becomes as routine as it is shown on the Minority Report tv show (it was on a few years ago on Fox for one 10 episode season), I am more incline to believe full animal rather than cell culture. We will need to get rid of some plant waste anyway somehow, and it is far easier to convert it to meat by animal than by cell culture

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1303 on: 12/28/2018 03:55 am »
I am allergic to soy.  This could be hard for some great engineer/astronaut with a soy based protein allergy.  Many are allergic to milk and milk products.  Many allergic to tomatoes and tomato products.  The list goes on.  In the long run there has to be a large variety of foods somehow. 

Although in the long run a variety of foods is desirable, I suspect that in the early days anyone with a problematic allergy simply won't be going.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1304 on: 12/28/2018 05:37 am »
I am allergic to soy.  This could be hard for some great engineer/astronaut with a soy based protein allergy.  Many are allergic to milk and milk products.  Many allergic to tomatoes and tomato products.  The list goes on.  In the long run there has to be a large variety of foods somehow. 

Although in the long run a variety of foods is desirable, I suspect that in the early days anyone with a problematic allergy simply won't be going.
Or they deal with it by using oral immunotherapy/desensitization.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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

Online sanman

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1305 on: 01/04/2019 11:58 am »
Just interrupting the meaty conversation to bring some interesting crop news:

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6422/eaat9077

Quote
Fixing photosynthetic inefficiencies

In some of our most useful crops (such as rice and wheat), photosynthesis produces toxic by-products that reduce its efficiency. Photorespiration deals with these by-products, converting them into metabolically useful components, but at the cost of energy lost. South et al. constructed a metabolic pathway in transgenic tobacco plants that more efficiently recaptures the unproductive by-products of photosynthesis with less energy lost (see the Perspective by Eisenhut and Weber). In field trials, these transgenic tobacco plants were ∼40% more productive than wild-type tobacco plants.


Scientists have been finding ways to make the photosynthesis process more efficient. An early attempt has achieved a 40% improvement in efficiency. Given the lower level of sunlight on Mars, things like this could make a huge difference in the economics and logistics of crop growth and viability.

I wonder what genetic/metabolic changes might be sought, in order to make crop cultivation on Mars as simple and economical as possible?
« Last Edit: 01/04/2019 12:01 pm by sanman »

Offline Hauerg

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1306 on: 01/04/2019 12:26 pm »
The low level on sunlight on Mars?
Really?

Yes the peak visible light is maybe half of Earth.
But where i live wenhave enough clouds to make up for that.

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1307 on: 01/04/2019 03:55 pm »
Just interrupting the meaty conversation to bring some interesting crop news:

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6422/eaat9077

Quote
Fixing photosynthetic inefficiencies

In some of our most useful crops (such as rice and wheat), photosynthesis produces toxic by-products that reduce its efficiency. Photorespiration deals with these by-products, converting them into metabolically useful components, but at the cost of energy lost. South et al. constructed a metabolic pathway in transgenic tobacco plants that more efficiently recaptures the unproductive by-products of photosynthesis with less energy lost (see the Perspective by Eisenhut and Weber). In field trials, these transgenic tobacco plants were ∼40% more productive than wild-type tobacco plants.


Scientists have been finding ways to make the photosynthesis process more efficient. An early attempt has achieved a 40% improvement in efficiency. Given the lower level of sunlight on Mars, things like this could make a huge difference in the economics and logistics of crop growth and viability.

I wonder what genetic/metabolic changes might be sought, in order to make crop cultivation on Mars as simple and economical as possible?

C3 plants, and most cultivated plants are C3, function better in low light conditions than C4 plants. There are quite a large number of plants adapted for low light similar to Mars, they are known as shade plants and they are likely to be in a pot inside your house or office. I have not read the link yet but per the quote it seems that they grafted the photosynthetic chain of a shade plant into tobacco. Martian conditions, especially if there is dust on the greenhouse, will correspond with the kind of lighting usual in a north European greenhouse. These kind of lighting conditions are more conductive to grasses than typical crops, but at worse we can add artificial lighting

Offline AegeanBlue

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Online sanman

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1309 on: 01/05/2019 03:32 pm »
C3 plants, and most cultivated plants are C3, function better in low light conditions than C4 plants. There are quite a large number of plants adapted for low light similar to Mars, they are known as shade plants and they are likely to be in a pot inside your house or office. I have not read the link yet but per the quote it seems that they grafted the photosynthetic chain of a shade plant into tobacco. Martian conditions, especially if there is dust on the greenhouse, will correspond with the kind of lighting usual in a north European greenhouse. These kind of lighting conditions are more conductive to grasses than typical crops, but at worse we can add artificial lighting

What about plants able to function in low-pressure CO2 conditions? Are there any apart from lichens? Is there any metabolic chain which could be exploited, or refined, or amplified for this purpose?

If you could erect transparent pressurized tents on Mars containing CO2 at low pressure and covering large areas, that might make it easier/cheaper to do photosynthetic crops using ambient Martian light. This would minimize the infrastructure required along with associated maintenance effort.

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1310 on: 01/07/2019 09:23 pm »
We do not have known plants able to function in low pressure, because this is not something plants run into on earth. Low pressure is seen as water stress by the plants, even if there is plentiful water

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1311 on: 01/07/2019 09:25 pm »
Growing food in space:

http://spaceref.com/space-biology/growing-food-in-space.html

It' about a plant growth experiment in Norway

Online sanman

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1312 on: 01/07/2019 10:05 pm »
We do not have known plants able to function in low pressure, because this is not something plants run into on earth. Low pressure is seen as water stress by the plants, even if there is plentiful water

Is it possible to hybridize plants with something else - like those bacteria which were found growing on the hull of ISS?

I once read that some Darwinistic breeding experiment was done with bacteria, in an attempt to create a batch that could better survive natural Mars conditions. Once of the researchers was quoted that they achieved remarkable results in the limited time they had, and said that they could have done far better if they'd been allowed much more time.

So even if there's nothing in nature that currently fills the bill, why can't we just create something new through the Darwinistic breeding approach? It shouldn't be that hard to replicate Mars conditions for that purpose.
« Last Edit: 01/07/2019 10:12 pm by sanman »

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1313 on: 01/08/2019 12:43 pm »
So even if there's nothing in nature that currently fills the bill, why can't we just create something new through the Darwinistic breeding approach? It shouldn't be that hard to replicate Mars conditions for that purpose.
That works in bacteria, because generation times are on the orders of minutes to hours. Not months or years like with plants.

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1314 on: 01/10/2019 06:02 am »
So even if there's nothing in nature that currently fills the bill, why can't we just create something new through the Darwinistic breeding approach? It shouldn't be that hard to replicate Mars conditions for that purpose.
That works in bacteria, because generation times are on the orders of minutes to hours. Not months or years like with plants.

Actually with transgenic technology this is accelerated. Agrobacterium tumefaciens infects cell culture of target plant and transcribes the desired gene at random in the plant genome. Afterwards the culture is cultivated into a plant that is tested to see if the gene was indeed transcribed, if it is active and if causes obvious defects on the plant. If it does not cause obvious defects and it causes subtle toxic effects in the long term (something that has yet to happen) we will find out epidemiologically which is why GMOs are so controversial. This however assumes that we know what a gene does. We do not know of any genes that confer the ability to support low atmospheric pressure, to either breed conventionally or transcribe genetically. Supporting low pressure is a whole pathway process, and biological systems are self emergent. When we are talking about an entire series of development steps that is associated with major anatomic changes in the vascular bundle, while we are not sure how the vascular bundle emerges out of the plant genome we are way beyond the current state of the art. There is an entire decades long effort to turn major crops (beyond alfalfa which already is) into perennials for a variety of ecosystem services benefits. There is some US government funding in the form of grants to various land grant institutions but for the most parts it is something from these institutions. Sure, a greenhouse is a far more benign environment for the plant than the field, but we are still talking about this kind of effort if we want low pressure plants. If someone is willing to spend hundreds of millions to billions for a decades long effort for low pressure plants, I am sure that the world agronomic community would rise to the challenge. But no one is, feeding the world or increasing corporate profits are higher priorities for agronomists than colonizing Mars

Online Slarty1080

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1315 on: 01/10/2019 08:44 pm »
The relatively low light levels on Mars could be easily solved by use of some sort of solar concentrators/mirrors and or LED lighting, so any type of plants could be grown.

I would expect all people living on Mars to start off as vegetarians. As soon as possible food from Earth would be replaced by locally grown crops and that situation might well remain for a very long time. Perhaps in the more distant future animals like chickens and goats and also fish might be introduced, although these might not be welcome culturally by that point.

I doubt plants would not need to be exposed to very low pressures. A lot would be grown in standard 1 bar Earth atmosphere environments and would form an integral part of the ECLSS as well as providing a pleasant environment for the residents.
If a much larger volume was required as might be the case, then the most economic atmospheric conditions in terms of pressure and composition would be used. This would have a higher partial pressure of carbon dioxide and possibly a reduce overall pressure depending on how much it costs to build higher pressure greenhouses v how much the reduced pressure reduced the growth of the plants.
The first words spoken on Mars: "Humans have been wondering if there was any life on the planet Mars for many decades well ... there is now!"

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1316 on: 01/14/2019 08:53 pm »
Can China grow a flower on the moon? The countdown begins

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/2181971/can-china-grow-flower-moon-countdown-begins

Chang'e 4 includes a mini biological lab with plants and silkworms

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1317 on: 01/18/2019 03:20 pm »
Georgia, the one on Mt Caucasus not the one with Atlanta, is breeding grapes for Mars

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-nation-georgia-wants-make-wine-mars-180971267/

Offline Lar

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1318 on: 01/18/2019 05:20 pm »
Can China grow a flower on the moon? The countdown begins

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/2181971/can-china-grow-flower-moon-countdown-begins

Chang'e 4 includes a mini biological lab with plants and silkworms
(fan) these apparently did not (were not intended to) survive the first night. A better test will be with a more powerful rover capable of providing better day night cycles and better temperature control, I would think. But it is an interesting demo.

(mod) This is a long thread. Let's avoid going round again, new posters would be advised to read what has gone before so we don't go round in circles... solar concentrators have been discussed upthread and elsewhere for example.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #1319 on: 01/23/2019 04:43 pm »

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