While reading about the Mars One project I noticed where MIT suggested that the first person expected to die on Mars, would die within the first 68 days. Not only that but supposedly there will only be 150 days worth of food, oxygen, and water for the 4 people selected to go on the mission.
We like trying to solve problems like this and hope this gets the attention of the Mars One project.
While we have the utmost faith in the scientific community as a whole we presume these estimations came from the weight of cargo and room for resources available. However it has been suggested that not only is there some water on Mars, but in fact there is condensation and vapor that in the early morning hours makes the relative humidity on Mars quite high compared to some Earth deserts.
Peru’s University of Technology and Engineering some time back took a specially constructed billboard to one of the driest deserts on Earth and with little more than a windmill created many litres of water per day.
While I doubt that a billboard is a practical object to bring along, it seems logical that a similar material could be used in the construction of some of the habitats and other structures that will be sent. And while there isn’t likely to be much wind there are many reasons that solar energy would be the appropriate choice to power such a system.
If I am not mistaken we have already discovered how to remove hydrogen from water, and if we remove enough hydrogen and then ionize the remaining liquid, does it become oxygen? Or would it be simpler to bring enough blue green algae to produce oxygen within 68 days? It seems likely that if you intended to try any agricultural studies using varying amounts of UV there could be some promising oxygen production from at least a few different plants.
- Large Ferns
- Peace Lilies
- Buckwheat sprouts
I’m no botanist but between these plants as well as any garden variety plants meant for consumption, it should be possible to produce some extra air and use air filtration systems to extend the use of it quite far. I’d still be looking at producing it from the water though as I suspect that will be easier to get than anticipated with the right planning.
Obviously we need more than simply oxygen, we need nitrogen to extend the air into the range we are accustomed. There are ways of doing that most likely and I imagine the Mars One program is looking into it.
Vitamin supplements and freeze dried dinners aside, the most difficult aspect of extending life anywhere is the production of food in abundant quantity. This may only present a challenge while we look at creating viable pastes that can be flavored and easily produced by the growing of particular fruits, sustainable vegetables, and milk producing animals who can be kept healthy both on the trip and during the initial phase of settlement. Nut producing trees can viably be a source for flour and protein though difficult to transport as mature plants. Peanuts may offer some solutions in this area.
I’m certainly no expert, but even just trying to think of ways to improve the chances of Mars One succeeding has given me more than a few hours of entertaining research. While I am certain that much of this has already been explored I can only toss out what I would explore to ponder.
I envy the selected men and women who get to go first, and with any luck by the time they disembark this idea of 68 days until the first member of the crew dies will be just a memory.
On a final note, someone should invite Richard Branson to offer some infrastructure solutions for the continued exploration of Mars, after all he is one of the few businessmen prepared to look at boldly going out that way.
Who knows, he might have a team engineer something to shoot some supplies in that general direction as long as nobody objects to his own people getting some credit for it.
Food for thought.