In this article I explained about How to grow plants on mars with the help of scientific proofs and also how we can make Movable Food Chamber on Mars with help of basic science principles and raw handmade paper designs of Movable Food Chamber.
This is my entry for -deepspacefoodchallenge by NASA
Soon in future NASA and Space-x will send humans/astronauts to the mars and the major problem they are facing food supply to the crew for that NASA is seeking ideas from all around the globe for that they started deepspacefoodchallenge .
In this article I will explain my theory in detail with scientific proofs / handmade paper designs for a movable food chamber and some theories with help of basic science principles.
Contents of This Article
- How I came to know about this challenge and how i got this idea?
- Detailed Research of mars soil from well known blogs and papers.
- Detailed Description of scientific terms those are useful for growing plants.
- My theory How we can grow plants on mars?
- Raw Handmade on paper designs
How i came to know about this challenge and how i got this idea?
Few days ago I am was thinking about plants and it’s process in my spare time then i thought about how plants grow which scientific processes takes place at the time of plants growing? /how we can grow? plants on mars?. and then I thought I will just discuss these things with one of my chemistry professor(Prof CV Mane Changdev Mane) and then I started talking with him about this idea and then other teachers sitting beside to him said I think you have a good idea have you heard about the NASA’s deep space food challenge after that i thought i can write on this with help of my idea and also i registered for this challenge.
Now Let’s deep dive in Scientific terms
Detailed Research of mars soil from well known blogs and papers
As compared to the soil of earth and mars, earth soil is having 50% of air and water and also mineral matters and when living organisms and bacteria dies then that organic matter gets created. on mars there is no such evidences like living organisms are there but according to Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter drone there is a life existed on mars half a billion years ago. Also on mars 98% of mineral matter is found and 2% of water this details are from previous mars missions NASA’s rovers. Also if humans are going to mars then we can land them on the surface where is the water lakes existed billions years ago so in that soil we can get some nutrients and stuff otherwise we can add fertilizers in the soil so we can make it better for plants.
When soils are rich in nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium crops grow well. otherwise we can use our waste material like Matt Damon(The martian) & Bear Grills did means urine and toilet waste.
Plants need to create energy for which they use a process called photosynthesis, which is a series of chemical reactions that convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars and oxygen. These chemical reactions can be summarized in the following way (in this case, the sugar is glucose (C6H12O6)):
6 CO2 (g) + 6 H2O (l) ⇾ 6 O2 (g) + C6H12O6 (aq)
Aq=aqueous solution, if you add H2O to it.
To carry out photosynthesis, plants also need various nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Nitrogen is a key component of chlorophyll, the compound responsible for the green color of plants and for capturing the light needed for photosynthesis. Potassium helps to open and close tiny pores in leaves and stems that take in the water and the carbon dioxide used in photosynthesis. Phosphorus is involved in the chemical reactions that make up photosynthesis.
References from the martian movie and in case of making water on mars we can make : take oxygen, add hydrogen, and burn them together to create water. But Matt Demon did not have hydrogen at his disposal. The oxygen, on the other hand, was easy to get. The Hab’s oxygenator liberated oxygen from the abundant carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere.
To obtain hydrogen, Matt Demon used hydrazine (N2H4), an inorganic compound widely used to propel rockets, satellites, and spacecraft that was available from his mission to Mars. He had hundreds of liters of unused hydrazine. Matt Demon dissociated hydrazine into nitrogen and hydrogen, and then, he burned hydrogen with oxygen, which resulted in water, as follows:
2 H2 + O2 ⇾ 2 H2O
Is it possible to create water from scratch yes it is but since creating water from scratch by burning hydrogen and oxygen would be too dangerous.
Note:-You should not try burning hydrogen and oxygen at home. or else we can reuse and re-purify our urine and waste material.
Detailed Description of scientific terms those are useful for growing plants
1. Nitrogen: Nitrate (the form of nitrogen that plants use) helps foliage grow strong by affecting the plant’s leaf development. It is also responsible for giving plants their green coloring by helping with chlorophyll production (gardensalive.com). For additional information on nitrogen, visit this blog: Nitrogen Fertilizers 101.
2. Phosphorus: Phosphorus is responsible for assisting with the growth of roots and flowers. Phosphorus also helps plants withstand environmental stress and harsh winters (gardensalive.com). For additional information on phosphorus, visit this blog article: Why Your Plants Need Phosphorus.
3. Potassium: Potassium strengthens plants, contributes to early growth and helps retain water. It also affects the plant’s disease and insect suppression (extension.uum.edu).
4. Magnesium: Magnesium contributes to the green coloring of plants (gardeningknowhow.com).
5. Sulfur: Sulfur helps plants resist disease as well as contributing the plant growth and the formation of seeds. They also aid in the production of amino acids, proteins, enzymes and vitamins (davesgarden.com).
6. Calcium: Calcium aids in the growth and development of cell walls. This is key because well-developed cell walls help the plant resist disease. It is also necessary for metabolism and the uptake of nitrogen by the plant (davesgarden.com).
To perform photosynthesis, plants need three things: carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight.
Just like us, plants need to take in gases in order to live. Animals take in gases through a process called respiration. During the respiration process, animals inhale all of the gases in the atmosphere, but the only gas that is retained and not immediately exhaled is oxygen. Plants, however, take in and use carbon dioxide gas for photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide enters through tiny holes in a plant’s leaves, flowers, branches, stems, and roots. Plants also require water to make their food. Depending on the environment, a plant’s access to water will vary. For example, desert plants, like a cactus, have less available water than a lily-pad in a pond, but every photosynthetic organism has some sort of adaptation, or special structure, designed to collect water. For most plants, roots are responsible for absorbing water.
The last requirement for photosynthesis is an important one because it provides the energy to make sugar. How does a plant take carbon dioxide and water molecules and make a food molecule? The Sun! The energy from light causes a chemical reaction that breaks down the molecules of carbon dioxide and water and reorganizes them to make the sugar (glucose) and oxygen gas. After the sugar is produced, it is then broken down by the mitochondria into energy that can be used for growth and repair. The oxygen that is produced is released from the same tiny holes through which the carbon dioxide entered. Even the oxygen that is released serves another purpose. Other organisms, such as animals, use oxygen to aid in their survival.
By taking in water (H2O) through the roots, carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air, and light energy from the Sun, plants can perform photosynthesis to make glucose (sugars) and oxygen (O2). and plant takes CO2 in and release O2 outside basically those plants are going to help crew/astronauts and humans on the mars
If we were to write a formula for photosynthesis, it would look like this:
6CO2 + 6H2O + Light energy → C6H12O6 (sugar) + 6O2
My theory How we can grow plants on mars?
- carbon dioxide / oxygen
- Gravity for plants
Plants can probably grow in Martian soil, with some help. All essential plant nutrients have been found in the soil on Mars or in Martian meteorites. However, the level of most nutrients is too low for healthy plant growth, so Martian soil will need to be improved with fertilizer.
Growing plants on Mars will require more than just fertilizing the soil. Martian soil is harmful for plants and people because it contains a lot of chlorine molecules called percolates. These toxic molecules will need to be removed before using the soil to grow food crops.
The harsh Martian environment posses many additional challenges plant growth. Plants need water, but liquid water on Mars is scarce and too salty for plant growth. Water will need to be sent from Earth, or collected and purified on Mars. A Martian garden will also need protection from the planet’s freezing temperatures and modification of the atmosphere to be more like Earth’s. Mars receives less sunlight than the Earth because it is farther away from the Sun. Frequent dust storms further reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the planet’s surface. This means that artificial lighting will also be needed to grow plants on Mars.
Some kind of Martian greenhouse will need to recreate Earth-like conditions to allow plant growth.
In some case for nutrients we can use our waste material for giving nutrients to the plants
Water can be made but it is dangerous process but still we can reuse our waste water but we can make water with this chemical formula
2 H2 + O2 ⇾ 2 H2O
After burning hydrogen and oxygen we can make water but is dangerous and harmful process then substitute for that is our waste we can re purify that too for that crew needs water supply that can last for a year or two. after doing that to many things increase rocket size and then prize means when we increase rocket size for giving more materials to the crew then similarly needed fuel is also going to increase and then overall budget of that mission will increase. best and hard option is making water with help of that formula.
According research mars is also having seasons like winter/spring/fall/summer but winter is little bit longer there we can make chamber or some sort of hub for that then we can open that when best season comes for the plants. For example summer but sun is far away from the mars so impact of that sunlight will be less now substitute for that is we can use Artificial Light for that
There are some differences between sunlight and artificial light most artificial light doesn’t emit as much energy in the red and blue region of the light spectrum as sunlight does.
The sun, a torch, and a light bulb all emit energy in the form of particles called photons. The photons from the sun are a product of thermonuclear fusion. A torch uses a chemical reaction to burn. A light bulb converts electricity to photons. But a photon is a photon and light is light whether it comes from the sun or a flashlight.
Huge amount of energy comes from the sun than from any artificial light. But the light from the sun is different from a street lamp another way: most artificial light doesn’t emit as much energy in the red and blue region of the light spectrum as sunlight does. In other words, different ratios of reds, yellows and blues all combine together to make up white sunlight.
Researchers can successfully grow plants using only artificial light in growth chambers. But sunlight is best for most plants. It’s generally more intense than artificial light, and it’s pretty equally distributed among the different wavelengths that earthly plants have evolved to like best.
carbon dioxide / oxygen
According to the Wikipedia mars contains Oxygen: 0.174%,Carbon dioxide: 95.32%,Carbon monoxide:0.0747%,Argon: 1.9%
Good news is in photosynthesis process plants use carbon-dioxide through the pores of there leafs
According to Live-Science
It's widely believed that the rise of plants turned that carbon dioxide into oxygen through the chemical reactions of photosynthesis, in a period called the Great Oxygenation Event. But a new study suggests there may be another way to make oxygen from carbon dioxide, using ultraviolet light in that machine carbon dioxide will grow through lasers and then those gases will be separated otherwise Plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen during a process called photosynthesis, using both the carbon and the oxygen to construct carbohydrates. In addition, plants also release oxygen to the atmosphere, which is subsequently used for respiration by heterotrophic organisms, forming a cycle.
Gravity on mars is 1/3 of the earth in this case we can create chambers there and we have to create disposable paper block so in that we can put soil and seeds and other fertilizers and stuff so we can fix plants in that and with help of that we can solve that issue otherwise Artificial gravity (centrifugal force )Earth’s surface is actually a combination of gravitational and centrifugal forces.
Now Question arises how we can grow plants on mars with help of scientific processes that explained earlier
First of all we have to create one chamber. That chamber should be lightweight because spaceship crew can set that to anywhere. So after doing this make a cup/glass structure paper-made (that will be fit there for avoiding the issues of gravity and other things). We will put soil and all other nutrients/fertilizers in that structure. If we don’t have fertilizers and other chemicals we can use our human waste stuff too but before that we must purify that soil and put that in a soil.
After that we have to make outer covers for that chambers means when we want to give carbon-dioxide and sunlight to plants. We have remove that cover and after doing that we have to free those holes for entering carbon-dioxide in that chamber if sunlight is not available we can use artificial sunlight option too in that we can grow plants there.
After this things we have to pour those seeds in the soil after that we have to give water to those plants but for that we have to perform to many processes like burning
2 H2 + O2 ⇾ 2 H2O
since creating water from scratch by burning hydrogen and oxygen would be too dangerous. or else we can reuse and re-purify our urine and waste material.
Note :-You should not try burning hydrogen and oxygen at home.
According to that we can give sunlight and water to plants daily the good news is for photosynthesis process plants use CO2 and they release oxygen and that is the good thing if astronauts/scientists can grow more plants.
Then one of the crew members can stay in that chamber with out wasting Oxygen storage they have in the spaceship and also human releases C02 and inhales oxygen then this process is visa versa helpful to the plants as well as the human beings living in that chamber.
And for getting natural sunlight & carbon-dioxide we have to check weather conditions daily according to NASA past rovers there is dust issues those can block sunlight and also temperature on mars is freezing cold.
so we have to make something that can filter inside environment like purifier according to the plants needs like some sort of AI program that can be trained with help of reinforcement machine learning model so it will learn automatically according to the environmental condition's.
And with help of this food chamber we can feed astronauts for year or two years because without natural resources it is hard to survive forever on mars. but if Perseverance rover finds the place where the lakes/water-resources existed then by boring deep if we get some water then that is good but that will be in ice state we have to melt that water and then may be we can use that for daily purposes and also for feeding plants if scientists wants real sunlight on mars then another option is where the angle of sun towards mars put mirrors there and then mars will get sunlight but that will cost billions of dollars to complete.
Below is raw designs of my food chamber model
and also details of design working given in the figure handmade
in the water plant section there will be a one water plant we can make water there or use from storage and also on fold-able chamber we have to make one cover that will protect from temperature environment changes so it can’t harm the plants inside in it and those holes will be automatically open and other things will be manual done by crew members.
We can be able to dispatch those the wheels outer covers of the movable food chamber(Assemble and De-assemble) if we design in that way.
Hopefully my article will help to the mars deep space food challenge.I think this is one my best article till date with lots of crazy ideas but those can implemented in real life with help of science principles.
Thank you for reading and have a good day ahead.
- Prof .CV Mane
- Prof .Sugandha Nandedkar
- Prof .Ashwini Gaikwad
- Prof .Pankaj Durole
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You can find more about me https://krishnadevz.github.io/