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Human waste could be used in a hydroponics facility to grow algae in space or Mars in pressurized tanks, and the photosynthesis can be used to convert CO2 to breathable oxygen. A carbon dioxide enriched nitrogen or helium medium would be needed to be processed by the algae and then by humans.

Would the waste from one human and carbon dioxide from Mars sustain the algae to produce enough oxygen for 1 or more human to breath?

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  • $\begingroup$ Radiation is a complicated and different question. An answer will have to address how much oxygen the algae consumes as well. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 17 '18 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ if you can model a closed cycle, than in general you need to create a system which has no loss. There is always some entropy, so the answer is possibly no. $\endgroup$ – J. Doe Dec 17 '18 at 7:44
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    $\begingroup$ What's the difference between "organic oxygen" and "regular oxygen"? "Organic" means "containting carbon atoms", so "organic oxygen" would be $CO_2$.. Could you please clarify this? $\endgroup$ – AtmosphericPrisonEscape Dec 17 '18 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ @AtmosphericPrisonEscape the oxygen is made by an organic method. $\endgroup$ – Muze the good Troll. Dec 17 '18 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ what you are asking is could you create a closed environment that works indefinitely. The biosphere2 people tried and found out that it was harder than it looked and that atmospheric oxygen content declined over time. The general answer is yes, but the devil is in the details. Read up on biosphere2 to see what some of the problems were. $\endgroup$ – zeta-band Dec 17 '18 at 19:18
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I believe this is what is behind Elon Musks Mars mission ideas however it has to be a specific type of algae, as this algae has to be fast enough to produce breathable oxygen quickly.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to space stack exchange! Fact-based answers are valued here. Do you have any references to back up your assertion that Elon Musk is planning to use this sort of thing? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Dec 19 '18 at 21:47

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