It is 2035 along his crewmates, believing him dead, have left him in his or her evacuation of the Red Earth. He faces all alone, trying to live in the face of radiation, storms, and small food.
That last difficulty proves to be a solvable one. And he figures out how to grow berries. The curry seedlings come out of his Thanksgiving dinner. And his very own cologne becomes fertilizer.
This situation, by the book and film The Martian, is science fiction.NASA researched potatoes in the 1980s and 1990s as a possible crop for human space missions. And though nobody is still climbing potatoes on Mars, scientists are already growing resources to grow food in space.
Folks will probably visit Mars sometime in your life.NASA has stated it intends to send people to Mars from the 2030s. And the personal area business SpaceX could ship its first crewed mission to Mars as early as 2024.
But ferrying people to Mars could be a far larger challenge than bringing them into the moon. To pull it off, we need to address a whole lot of issues. Getting to Mars is merely one of these. Then we must determine where our water and food will come out of. Planners also need to find out how distance travelers will find any tools they might suddenly need when they are millions of kilometers from the closest hardware store. It is a massive undertaking, but scientists around the globe are already at work.
Now’s distance travelers do not go to the moon or Mars; they visit the International Space Station (ISS). It is orbiting 381 km (237 kilometers ) above the planet’s surface. One of their tasks is running experiments and analyzing equipment that may be helpful for future missions to the moon, an asteroid, Mars, or beyond.
In the event that you seen the ISS now, just about any piece of food you ate could have been sent up from Earth. These would be the earliest foods being developed on the ISS.
There are lots of reasons NASA would like to learn how to grow vegetables in distance. Besides supplying new food for astronauts, plants can offer life support by recycling water and air.
As Mark Watney discovered on Mars, potatoes may be great survival food. They have adequate quantities of protein, some vitamins, and other nutritional supplements. They are also full of carbohydrates (sugars and starches). They can, however, help keep you out of starvation.
Potatoes have to be cooked before they can be consumed. And potato plants require a good deal of space to grow. So Massa and her coworkers began with something simpler: lettuce.
Lettuce seeds have been packaged into”plant cushions” with baked clay and fertilizer. Add water, a few artificial lights,s and voila!
They needed to ship each little back to Earth to be researched. The following year, following NASA scientists who affirmed this food was secure, the astronauts climbed another harvest. This time they had been permitted to chow down.
In addition, they made lettuce wraps with lobster salad inside. Not surprisingly, gardening differs in space than it’s on Earth. Without plants, gravity does not know which way is up. They ship their shoots light and their origins on the contrary direction. Otherwise, oxygen could collect at a ball across the crops, and they would not have sufficient carbon dioxide to perform photosynthesis.
The scientists had difficulty supplying the plants with sufficient water. The cloth plant cushions containing the seeds, fertilizer, and clay have been designed to draw water out of a reservoir. Nevertheless, they did not get the job done quickly enough. The astronauts ended up having to water the crops by hand. Massa and her staff are now redesigning the watering system.
ISS astronauts have also grown green cabbage in addition to flowers. Along with being fair, astronaut Scott Kelly’s backyard of zinnias helped scientists examine whether plants blossom in distance. That is very important to understand since flowering is the way some plants replicate. It is also a part of how many plants create fruit.
Building a faster engine
Reaching the ISS out of Earth requires less than a day. A visit to Mars may take almost a year — along with a massive quantity of gas. The compound engines utilized to establish a rocket into space using a fiery blast aren’t great at propelling a spacecraft to another world. With no gasoline stations between here and Mars, “You have to take all of your fuel on you,” states Bill Emrich. He is a nuclear engineer with NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.”If you are going to do so, you would like to have an engine that is going to receive a good deal of mph.”To accomplish this, ” he says, you need to go nuclear.
The ideal motor can take some very light gas, such as hydrogen, and heat it to extremely substantial temperatures at a nuclear reactor. This super-heated gasoline is sprayed out the trunk by means of a nozzle to propel the spacecraft forward.”The hotter you are able to produce the gas coming from the nozzle, the more effective it’s,” Emrich describes.
Nuclear engines are not just effective, they are fast. Unmanned spacecraft are shipped to the outside solar system with what is called ion propulsion. This type of system may take a year to send people to Mars. By comparison, a nuclear-thermal engine may shorten that travel to only four or five months, Emrich states.