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Green Plants for Mars Mission

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the algae-again-tonight-eh-hal dept.

Space 262

An anonymous reader writes "NASA doesn't keep back that they are going to send a human expedition to Mars in a couple of decades. One of the obstacles for the longstanding 35-million-mile voyage is a food production. NASA researchers have focused on 20 plant species that NASA believes could be grown during a flight to Mars and after landing on the fourth planet from the Sun. By far not all of them are suitable for space expedition."

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262 comments

summary=story (5, Insightful)

Emugamer (143719) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614384)

wow that is such a fluff piece, it says that the actual information will be released later on, it doesn't mention the species of plants looked at, it doesn't explain much other then they look at byproducts and that they want to help the crew survive... :) where is the geeky stuff?

Re:summary=story (0)

Norg (824853) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614427)

I guess they got the kittenish reporter out on a story. Give 'em time, they'll learn to give you the geeky stuff right up front.

Re: summary=story (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614485)


> wow that is such a fluff piece, it says that the actual information will be released later on, it doesn't mention the species of plants looked at

They don't want to scare off tommorow's potential astronauts with a long list of vegetables.

Re:summary=story (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614502)

parent is insightful. the linked article provides little information. all that i could find is an article mentioning radishes, green onions, and lettuce [nasa.gov] as possible candidate species.

A-Day

Re:summary=story (3, Interesting)

gobbo (567674) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614731)

Interesting to note in that story that they mention low-pressure growing environments to reduce structural stresses. If you've ever been up to super-high altitude places like the Andes or Himalayan valleys, you'll see some massive vegetables, because of the strong sun and carefully managed micro-climates. I wonder what the pressure threshold is for typical vegetables to thrive.

Re:summary=story (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614527)

Incase you didnt notice yet, physorg.com is a SEO site, they just STEAL content from other sites.
Sometimes its okay, like press releases but sometimes they outright steal from other news sites!!!!

Re:summary=story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614579)

Yeah noticed that too, even tried to mail the editors. Like that Piquepalle dude a few weeks ago.

Canabis could be ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614388)

a good candidate for the mission. I guess travaling that far can be boring .

Where's the device that speeds and slows the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614435)

passing of time? (pulls out bong) Right here.

Re:Where's the device that speeds and slows the (5, Informative)

chris mazuc (8017) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614450)

Actually, smoking in such a limited atmosphere might overload the air handlers. Brownies would probably be a much better idea.

Re:Where's the device that speeds and slows the (2, Funny)

lcsjk (143581) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614811)

You're right! Brownies don't give off much smoke. They keep going out!

Re:Canabis could be ... (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614526)

Don't you think they'd be "spaced out" enough... ?

Being stoned is pretty boring too (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614577)

Besides, where would they put the 2 tonnes of Cheetos required for the trip?

not a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614646)

Actually, smoking kannabis tends to SLOW down percieved time and as such would propably not be a good idea. Unless of course they were having a good time listening to jazz and boning beautiful women.

Re:Canabis could be ... (2, Funny)

halo8 (445515) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614670)

Smoking Dope in space..

wow man... far out.. i dunno wouldnt that be like some sorta universe colapsing quantom pardox man? being spaced out IN space?

Like.. youd be all like... "Wow man it feels like im floating in space" and then.. and then.. OMG you ARE floating space.. that would be soo cool.. like.. up until the whole universe imploding thing.

far out man.
Im hungry just thinking about it.

laughing plants (1, Funny)

GrAfFiT (802657) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614390)

"potential problems based on the byproducts they gave off"
..does making people laugh makes a problem ?

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614391)

why don't they tell us the 20 species? Is it a secret?

the list (5, Informative)

r00t (33219) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614511)

zucchini
garlic
kudzu
black beans
trumpet vine
sweet potato
bamboo
red beans
spider plant
black-eye beans
redwood
dill
onion
mustard
catnip
fava beans
stinging nettle
cabbage
thistle
dandilion

what?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614558)

no beef, chicken, iguanna, dodo etc?!!?!

or is this a plan to isolate all the vegans to their own planet?

No meat! (2, Insightful)

dapyx (665882) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614612)

It requires by far more energy to make meat than to make vegetables.

So, they'll have only vegeterians in the space crews. :-)

Re:the list (4, Interesting)

gobbo (567674) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614597)

Interesting, and as a gardener with farmers and nutritionists for friends, believable. Where did you obtain this list? (uncited, so not really informative, mods)

Sweet potato is a large plant, lots of beta carotene. A few of these plants are very heavy feeders, but rapid growers. Nettle is a nutritional secret: you can almost live on the stuff alone. Spider plant is a heavy breather. Not many people know that kudzu is good for you, or that dandelion used to be a cultivated staple in european gardens--you use the whole plant.

Catnip, redwood, trumpet vine, and thistle are headscratchers, though. Medicine, wood, and mulch?

Re:the list (1)

Dominic Burns (673810) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614631)

If that list is bona fide, I'm surprised soy beans aren't on it.

Re:the list (4, Informative)

gobbo (567674) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614774)

If that list is bona fide, I'm surprised soy beans aren't on it.

I'm not. Fava is also a short bushing bean--so it fits the same stacking profile for access to light--and just as versatile with less processing required. Soy is good for large harvesting machines, which has something to do with its ubiquity--it's tied to a large industrial system. Simply boiled fava beans taste better than soy prepared the same way. They have similar nutritious characteristics. Less processing=better nutrition, better energy consumption. Give me a fava plant in the garden over soy any day.

Re:the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614656)

do not forget psylocybe cyanessence

Re:the list (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614741)

Two comments on your list

1. Isn't Kudzu [invasivespecies.gov] an extremely invasive vine?

I guess nobody at NASA considered the Tribble factor.

2. fava beans

Will the ship's cellar be stocked with a nice Chianti? If so, I'm not volenteering.

Spam spam spam spam! (3, Funny)

shawnywany (664241) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614392)

Spam... Comes in a small can, and tastes great. As a good long-term food source, it's great--just ask me. The poor university student. :(

forget spam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614442)

What about some Hamdingers?

Astronaut Ramen! (1)

b00m3rang (682108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614446)

Just like regular Ramen, but it costs 10x as much.

Re:Astronaut Ramen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614454)

...but still within budget!

Re:Spam spam spam spam! (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614461)

It also makes a great growth medium for nutritious mold!

Re:Spam spam spam spam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614691)

I prefer the rice-cake method. [erowid.org]

Re:Spam spam spam spam! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614524)

Doesn't a single serving of spam have like twice as much sodium as you should have in an entire day? Not exactly the best long term food source...

Re:Spam spam spam spam! (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614538)

Or McDonalds food. You can leave a ham burger in a car for over 2 weeks, and it still looks just as fresh (It's shocking how many preservatives [no condom jokes, thankyou] they stick in them).

Re:Spam spam spam spam! (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614690)

Everyone knows that, in space, revenge is a good meal. And serving it cold will save on power consumption too!

I wonder... (2, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614394)

I wonder if someone will smuggle pot seeds onboard...

Re:I wonder... (1)

nutrock69 (446385) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614434)

What'll be funny is if it turns out that pot is the only plant we bring up that is viable on Mars.

"We're gonna die soon, but at least it's a good time!"

Re:I wonder... (1, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614437)

If you believe the medical qualities they might just provide them. We already know that the stuff grows well hydroponically, and views on it are changing in the USA, so it might be medically legal by then.

Re:I wonder... (1)

tylernt (581794) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614493)

Who cares about the laws of some puny earthbound government like the US. These guys are going to be in *space*, for crying out loud. Isn't that kind of like international waters?

Re:I wonder... (1)

BottleCup (691335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614460)

Surgeon General's Warning:

Smoking pot while on another planet may be hazardous to your health.

Re:I wonder... (1)

ssand (702570) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614507)

If done today, I doubt it. I'm sure as part of the physical examinations astronaughts must go through, drug tests are one of them. If it does become legle in the US, then perhapse, however there would then be issues like smoke.

Alcohol is legal now, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614603)

you don't see NASA loading up the cargo hold with 40's. Legal is one thing, useful for the success of the mission is another.

Cheers,

Re:I wonder... (2, Funny)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614517)

lander door opens and astronaut steps out....faint sounds of Bob Marley playing....

"that's one small ste...oh dude it's like so RED out here!! And the sky.. is like... totally pink man! Houston, I'm like, so tripping right now!"

Plants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614399)

Anyone else notice that the FA doesn't list the plants?
I mean seriously, how else are we going to raise the ban on Marijuana if NASA doesn't use it in space?

Hemp. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614424)

Hemp shall be the savior of man kind.

Take that Conservatives.

Food Source (5, Funny)

cyber_rigger (527103) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614425)

Why can't we just eat at the Starbucks that will be there by the time we get there.

Re:Food Source (1)

telax (653371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614474)

Even a new environment doesn't make it taste eatable. :P

Re:Food Source (5, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614494)

Your right, it would be like NASA to buy a 7 dollar cup of coffee.

Nah, NASA would buy... (3, Funny)

lxt (724570) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614700)

...a 1 cent coffee, and a $6.99 paper cup :)

Re:Food Source (0)

fafalone (633739) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614844)

Hey now the most expensive item on the Starbuck's menu here is a Venti (x-lg) White Chocolate Mocha at $4.20. It's delicious, and I don't know how I'd survive my 8am class without it, you can't put a price on that.

Re:Food Source (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614747)

Bring along Magical Trevor [weebls-stuff.com] and they can eat cow. And beans, lots of beans, lots of beans, lots of beans, saw beans, lots of beans, yeah yeah.

Or maybe skip the beans--That would not be a very magical trip.

Why not just put them in stasis?... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614429)

...it worked in 2001

Amsterdam? (-1, Redundant)

AbbyNormal (216235) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614431)

I'm pretty sure that Amsterdam, has some "Green" plants that could place the astronauts into hibernation for a year (or two).

Re:Amsterdam? (2, Funny)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614468)

About the time I stopped smoking, pot had gotten a lot more powerful, and the kids were calling it "chronic" or "polio". Has it gotten powerful enough to call it "suspended animation"?

Karma Whoring (2, Informative)

melted keyboard (798559) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614436)

Article Text

NASA faculty fellow researches effect of certain plants on air quality

When earthlings make their first attempt to land on Mars, E. Paul Larrat will be justified in thinking he played a small role in the 35-million-mile voyage.

Larrat, associate dean of the University of Rhode Island's College of Pharmacy, spent much of the summer as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration Faculty Fellow at the Advanced Life Support Center at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

His work focused on 20 plant species that NASA believes could be grown during a flight to Mars and after landing on the fourth planet from the Sun.

Larrat, an East Greenwich resident, was one of 100 fellows chosen from a field of 700 nominees to work at various NASA research centers across the country.

"We looked at all the candidate crops and we tagged a few for potential problems based on the byproducts they gave off," Larrat said.

Larrat, who oversees the research and graduate programs of URI's College of Pharmacy, was assigned to a center that examines issues and problems associated with supporting crews on long-duration flights. "On a three-year trip to Mars, crews are going to have to recycle water, and grow some of their own food. Much of the center's work focuses on making sure the crews don't die because they lack water, air, or food. But it is also concerned with life support processes that could threaten life.

"I worked on the air supply and making sure that it does not become contaminated by the growing of certain plants," Larrat said. "This really fit in well with my public health-epidemiology research work."

He used a gas chromatograph to test what was emitted by small samples of the potential food sources.

"We worked four days a week at the center, and on Wednesday, we had a chance to tour various sites at the Kennedy Space Center," Larrat said. "We had a chance to see workers putting tiles on the shuttle, Endeavor, and the recovery boats that pick up the solid rocket boosters after liftoff.

"To stand under the shuttle and touch it and be a part of the space program was a dream come true, because I have had a lifelong interest in space."

He was fortunate to be at Kennedy for the 35th anniversary celebrations of the Apollo missions. Jim Lovell, the commander of Apollo 13, which had to abort its mission to the moon, spoke while Larrat was at the Kennedy Space Center. "When the astronauts come in, it's like they are rock stars. Many come on their own private jets and then people swarm around them for autographs."

He keeps in contact with his research colleagues, and they are planning to publish their findings and to present them at the International Space Conference next year. They compiled a report of 200 pages.

He said his fellowship also helps pharmacy students see that their options for careers are many. "I know that anyone from our program would be able to succeed in this environment," he said.

"There is already work going on to produce medicines in space, and then to commercialize those products," Larrat said.

"Fifteen years from now when we are heading to Mars, I can say I was a small part of this. And I'd like to think the crew will be healthier because of the work we have done."

Source: University of Rhode Island

Efficient? (2, Insightful)

MrDickey (653242) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614438)

It seems to me that taking the lamps, dirt, and space needed for the plants to grow would be less efficient than simply filling the space with canned food. I suppose it depends on the time they are taking; I wonder how many growing seasons they will have on the way to mars.

Re:Efficient? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614463)

It seems to me that taking the lamps, dirt, and space needed for the plants to grow would be less efficient than simply filling the space with canned food.

But if you don't eat your greens you won't get any pudding. And who would spend years in space without pudding?

Re:Efficient? (1)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614487)

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

Re:Efficient? (1)

cyberwench (10225) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614719)

They won't be taking dirt. It's too heavy and in an intensive situation like that, they'll be using hydroponics. The NASA article referenced up a little higher on the page shows some of the plants they're trying and talks about nutrient solutions - they're clearly hydroponic vegetables. Hmm... actually, running treated water through the vegetables might be a good way to do final filtration on water for the crew to reuse.

The main problem with taking canned food is that it's limited. If you find out halfway there that you don't have enough (velocity is slower than you thought or something), you're toast. Real vegetables can reproduce, and the seeds allow you a continuous supply of food, no matter how long the mission goes on.

Re:Efficient? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614492)

I think a round trip to mars is 5 years, but it could be 1-way that is 5 yeras.
Anyway, assuming that a 1-way trip is 2.5 years, that's 5 growing seasons right there, because you don't have to worry about the cold in a heated vehical. If we could use GM Plants that mature even faster, food production would increase to maybe 7 or 8 harvests in 5 years.
Add the time spent actually *on* the surface, and the return trip, and you've got a great deal of food.

Round trip efficiency (2, Interesting)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614532)

Of course, owning the inner solar system is not going anyplace practical until the round trip time can be cut back to a few months vs a few years. You can always store up stuff for a year or so. But after a while, it starts to add up.

This is the real barrier to owning our own back yard. Fortunately, the technology is something that is not out of reach. It is something that can come to fruition in the next few decades. then you can grow your own food where-ever you happen to be at.

Re:Efficient? (4, Interesting)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614499)

First of all, I highly doubt they're going to use "dirt". Hydroponic growth medium of some sort I might imagine.

Second of all, the plants serve a dual purpose: food and oxygen replenishment. Cans don't change carbon dioxide into oxygen. They can't.

Third, space needed depends on the plant. Maybe they'll use algae, which is a plant.

Re:Efficient? (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614509)

Maybe they'll use algae, which is a plant.

And it tastes oh so good!

Re:Efficient? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614548)

Isn't it a fungus?

Re:Efficient? (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614575)

Not unless a fungus has chlorophyll and converts sunlight and CO2 to sugar and O2.

Re:Efficient? (2, Insightful)

gobbo (567674) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614803)

Maybe they'll use algae, which is a plant.

And it tastes oh so good!

Well, it doesn't taste that bad, if you're eating spirulina [google.com] , considering how damn good it is for you in the right dosages. Sounds sensible to me. I tease my significant other for drinking "pond scum" in her orange juice, but she doesn't mind the taste at all.

Re:Efficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614645)

While, you're just replacing one vague term with another that sounds slightly more sophisticated you are at least going in the right direction towards what the article should have been about, ie the specific chemical interactions between different organisms from the species to the kingdom level in a closed loop. Probably they want to bring some green manure crops and they will likely want some bacterial cultures as well. The latter represent an area where freeze-dried stocks like milk powder could come in handy not for direct consumption but for biomanufacture.
But this is relatively uncharted territory. Closed loop hydropnics using "manure teas" have been successful in the past, but the literature is sparse. It's a pity the article was so completely deviod of content.

Re:Efficient? (2, Insightful)

tylernt (581794) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614515)

"the lamps, dirt, and space needed for the plants to grow would be less efficient"

I'm inclined to agree, for a short mission. Except, they don't need to stock enough soil/nutrients/water etc for 5 years, because they can use and re-use the water and uh, human waste, over and over again, resulting in a semi-closed loop. Depending on how closed the loop is and how long they're out, there is some point where this becomes more efficient. I guess they've done the math.

What is the point of going to mars? (-1, Troll)

zerdood (824300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614441)

This is a lot of work, costing millions of dollars, for what? To collect red rocks? Why don't we spend that money on fixing Social Security, or getting more flu shots?

Re:What is the point of going to mars? (4, Insightful)

norkakn (102380) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614455)

I vote that we fix SS, healthcare for all, edcation for all AND mars.

We just have to stop bombing so many people to pay for it.

Re:What is the point of going to mars? (3, Insightful)

patdabiker (710704) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614462)

Yes, abandon all work towards the future until we can handle the present. Society has gotten to where we are today by continually looking towards the future. Plus, solutions NASA develops frequently benefit the general public in unexpected ways.

Re:What is the point of going to mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614491)

Because in 500 years when we've run out of oil, stripmined most of the US for the last of the coal to make synthetic oils, Americans will have to turn to another planet to destroy.

Re:What is the point of going to mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614543)

Because in 500 years when we've run out of oil[...]

you mean 50, right ?

Re:What is the point of going to mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614525)

Troll

Re:What is the point of going to mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614643)

That would be a lot of work, costing billions of dollars. For what? Keeping non-productive elderly people alive as long as possible so that they'll continue being a burden on our infrastructure? Why don't we spend all that money on expanding the horizons of the human race?

Sadly, I think that you are getting your wish (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614805)

Look, every society that looks inwards ends up decaying. There are no solutions for all of societies ills. It is the reason why Communism will never work. Mankind is its own worse enemy. By looking outwards and expanding to the stars, we will increase economically as well as improve our own conditions. Think about when America prospered. Our greatest times where probably during the late 50's until late 60's. A big part of that was doing things such NASA, but in the right way. Now, NASA is just a tool that is being bantered about by politicians to be used to improve their own voting records, but not necessarily the USA.

Bush's ideas of not shooting for Mars, but going to the moon, all but guarentees that we will have enormous costs for a long time. The moon has no real resources. But even if Kerry gets in, I think that we are still in trouble. Our best chance at this is the X-Prize being moved into y-prize and z-prize, etc. With Paul Allens interest in the future, he is funding a number of space related things as well. I suspect that he will be able to get some commercially viable companies on to new ground. Literally. In fact, if the private Russia trip really is shooting for Mars happens, I think that it probably has Allen's backing.

I can see it now... (5, Funny)

ardustry (781848) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614467)

...fifty years from now, we find that the only plants that would grow on Mars are ragweed and poison ivy.

Mission: Innocuation (1, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614481)

So when we arrive on Mars, we'll bring a complex enough ecosystem that we'll infect the planet with the disease now erupting from Earth: us. If Earth is Gaia, we're her virus. How many planets makes an epidemic?

Re:Mission: Innocuation (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614785)

We know that's you Al...

Frozen food experiments part II (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614505)

Part II because of average student housing has done anough research in keeping frozen food foot extended periods beyond the date printed on the wrapping (but never recorded the actual consumption and kill rate).

Also the mars mission has a better fridge, which should help (-| .

Closed System test run (3, Interesting)

spineboy (22918) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614508)

It seems pretty obvious to me that they will need to do a several month long completely closed dry run. Plants can make some pretty funky compounds - they engage in chemical warfare with eachother - that's where we get the starting base compound for our chemotherapy drugs, and other medicines.

Anyway, it'll be kind of a drag being locked up on earth for a few months in a small closed environment - but I wouldn't trust relying on plants any other way.

Re:Closed System test run (5, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614556)

Actually, they've tried to do a closed system test run. The project was called Biosphere 2 [wikipedia.org] (Biosphere 1 being nature).

From what I recall (the Wikipedia article doesn't seem to mention this), The project was either a great failure or a great success, depending on how you look at it. It was a great success, because life thrived in it. The failure was in the fact that the system wasn't balanced very well, and the lifeforms that thrived were the likes of cockcroaches; not the humans that were intended to do scientific experiments there.

Re:Closed System test run (3, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614616)

Biosphere 2 was a technical failure. THey had to pump extra oxygen into the system after it was discovered that the extinction rate within the dome was a lot higher than expected. Something like 70% of all species put into the system to begin with died out within the life of the experiment.

Re:Closed System test run (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614764)

And it showed how hard it is to design a system to work properly. I am surprised that we have not been doing more work on biospheres. I saw that they are finally throwing one up in siberia. Strikes me as one of the better ideas yet. Less sunlight. Much lower temperatures. Closer to mars.

Re:Closed System test run (2, Interesting)

gobbo (567674) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614693)

The failure was in the fact that the system wasn't balanced very well, and the lifeforms that thrived were the likes of cockcroaches; not the humans that were intended to do scientific experiments there.

In a cup-is-half-full approach to semi-independent systems, you could say that what they had was not an excess of cockroaches but a shortage of chickens. I mean, why waste all those wonderful little packages of proteins and minerals? Turn them into eggs. Cockroaches in themselves can be useful for scavenging detritus in a garden. An excess of anything like that is just a failure to integrate the system and make sure everything's being used in multiple ways.

I wonder if those biosphere folks ever heard of permaculture? [wikipedia.org]

It's been done. (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614609)

Biosphere II [nationmaster.com]

omg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614535)

can we abduct a few aliens while we're there????

essential plant for Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614537)

BC bud clones, no problem with lighting in outerspace.

Plants that failed (4, Funny)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614566)

  • Palm tree: No palmtree-sized spaceships available yet. Adding 10 foot high skylight to craft inadvisable.
  • Marijuana: Used up before launch by ground crew, causing crew to riot.
  • Sugar cane: Last sugar rush of crewman Johnson cost us 3 million USD.
  • Juniper berries: Crewman Richards managed to build a distillery out of a first aid kit, never mind what he can do with a spaceship.
  • Experimental mold: Last batch got killed by the maid.
  • Experimental mold mk2: Last batch killed the maid.
  • Money trees: Waged war with Financing, lost the money trees.

artificial gravity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614599)

Why can't they just make a spacecraft that has a rotating section to provide artifical gravity, so they wouldn't have to worry about cultivating plants in 0-G?

Re:artificial gravity (2, Interesting)

mdrn28 (770727) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614681)

Why can't they just make a spacecraft that has a rotating section to provide artifical gravity?


Weight, reliability, and cost perhaps? If they can find a set of plants that will do the job on zero-G, it'll weigh less, be relatively reliable, and the component parts (water, nutrients, etc.) may be recyclable to some extent. Seems like it has the potential to be an elegant solution.

Genetically modded? (2, Insightful)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614655)

Would this be a good opportunity to use genetically modified plants? Perhaps ones that produce food quicker, or that live longer or that eat up more C02 and produce more 02?

QT: Anyone have one of those "biosphere" globes? (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614687)

I remember "they" used to sell small glass balls (4 or 6 inches?) that contained a self-sufficient ecology. This was in the 80's IIRC.

I think they were mostly water, with some sort of green water-plant, and tiny shrimp or some such, for a "complete" plant-animal symbiotic environment.

Anyhow, they were supposed to cycle "forever?" in their closed, balanced system. Assuming you gave it enought sunlight, but didn't over-cook it, and of course assuming it didn't get knocked to the floor.

Did anyone have (still have) one of these? How long did/has it lasted? Can you still get them anywhere?

Re:QT: Anyone have one of those "biosphere" globes (1)

Naffer (720686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614878)

It's awesome. It's a shame that the shrimp don't reproduce though.

Re:QT: Anyone have one of those "biosphere" globes (2, Informative)

azadam (250783) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614883)

Yeah, if you've got a Brookstone near you, they carry them... or search the site for "ecosphere"...

http://www.brookstone.com/

Survival of the Fittest (5, Interesting)

airship (242862) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614733)

Why not just fill a capsule with seeds from every plant on earth and have it crash into Mars about 20 years before we go there? Anything that can grow, will grow, and we'll find out what works without a bunch of expensive and potentially futile research. Like they say in Jurassic Park, "Nature will find a way". :)

Coke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614735)

It is the drug of choice in the white house.

They should ask CIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614746)

It is well known here in Europe that CIA has managed to excavate a few seeds of the supposedly extinct macaroni tree, and have developed the pizza plant for their undercover agents. Only the strong commercial forces and CIA's greed prevent the wholesale use of these inventions for the good of all mankind. Maybe NASA can get hold of those anyway...

AWESOME 7p (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614776)

Continues to lose share. FreeBSD is in rAtio of 5 to save Linux from a
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