The human race is headed to Mars in 20 years or less. Planning has already initiated in the U.S. NASA is selecting 20 astronauts out of 6,300 candidates to train for long duration spaceflights. This means a journey to an asteroid where they will lasso the rock and place it in orbit around our moon. That will just be a training mission for the journey to the red planet.
Can you imagine going on a trip that will take you 140 million miles from Earth. Where for weeks at a time communications to earth will be blocked by the presence of the sun. Then you have the constant danger of radiation, possible collisions with rocks and so many other events that could go wrong over this long journey. There is no backup plan of rescue. This could turn into a one way trip.
Renovating Your Mind will not be strapping in and blasting off to the fourth planet from the Sun. I will patiently wait till the day that I can beam over to the planet in seconds.
With current technology, it will take about 8 months for our astronauts to reach Mars. Scientists are hoping they can figure out a way to make the trip shorter. They are working on other types of energy sources to increase speed of the craft.
One of the most important things for the crew is having fresh food. This gives the space travelers the nutrients and calories they need to remain healthy. Astronauts must set up a farm market to raise food within the spaceship. Food brought on from earth won’t last long. Packaged food is very heavy and scientists can only store a limited amount due to weight restrictions.
Since gravity is almost nil in space they can’t use dirt for growing the plants. All the soil particles will float in the air. Hydroponics is also out of the question. The water molecules will rise up and circulate throughout the ship. To plant in low gravity, one possible solution is a meshwork of sponge-like material that must be anchored to the floor. Astronauts would soak the material with water and liquid nutrients. The seeds would have to be embedded inside the meshwork.
As for the needed light, scientists can divert sunlight exterior to the ship through fiber-optic cables onto the crops. An alternative to the sun would be LEDs (light emitting diodes). These diodes can be focused with specific wavelengths of light designed for best growth and yield for specific plant(s).
Once we arrive on Mars, gravity awaits us. The red planet has about 1/3 of the force of Earth. We can then utilize the normal garden planting, watering and fertilizing that we perform here. Researchers have yet to figure out how to use Martian soils to grow plants. In addition, we need to be able to make water on Mars for our own sustenance and the plants. The crew can bring protected seeds from earth. Seeds that are shielded so that they can’t be damaged by radiation.
So far, growth experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) included lettuce, strawberries and wheat. They have all done very well inside the station. Problems exist because of the high volume needed to feed the astronauts. An additional complication is the time involved for the crew to maintain this garden. This would limit their other responsibilities on the spaceship.
Other plants that are feasible in closed corridors are greens like kale, spinach, arugula, etc. It would be relatively simple to grow root vegetables, tomatoes, soy beans and green onions. Soy is a complete protein and equal in quality to animal meat. They could make soy products like tofu and soy milk.
Food and water are of the highest priority with regards to survival in space and on Mars. If they can’t perfect how they will achieve this formidable task then it’s game over.
Don’t worry about the expense of the Mars project. Let me put the costs into perspective for you with this revealing illustration: