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67 votes

Why did the Chinese send flies and plants to the far side of the moon?

Right now, almost 100% of existing research on growth in gravity fields is basically at 0g (ISS/Mir/Skylab/whatever) or 1g. There are a lot of questions of what happens at 1/6g or 2/3g? No good ...
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22 votes
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Is it possible to grow plants on Mars?

Some of the rocks on Mars aren't too bad for growth of plants or bacteria. They contain a considerable amount of clay minerals (about 20%), and several other minerals which are considered as essential ...
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16 votes
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How many plants would be needed to produce oxygen enough for 20 humans?

This article addresses much the same question. The quick summary is about 300 to 500 typical domestic houseplants per person, with significant caveats, more like 700 to be safe. So 6-14 thousand such ...
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16 votes
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Using bamboo as space construction material

This is a remarkably interesting exchange. I would like to add a few concerns (as an engineer, I go straight for the problems)... Full culm bamboo is a remarkably inefficient product to transport and ...
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15 votes

Why can't plants grow on Mars?

Plants don't just need carbon dioxide; like most organisms, they need oxygen to survive as well. They can produce oxygen from carbon dioxide, but that doesn't help cells that aren't exposed to ...
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14 votes
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How deep a valley or trench would be needed on Mars to provide the same atmospheric pressure as 6 km above sea level on Earth?

Mars' atmosphere scale height is, depending on who you ask, 10.8 to 11.1 km. Pressure at the bottom of Hellas Planitia: 1.16 kPa Earth sea level: 101.3 kPa Earth 6km altitude: ~50 kPa. So we need ...
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13 votes

Agriculture on an exoplanet

Ignoring the infrared radiation aspect of your question, what you are describing is a situation not too dissimilar to what exists in many parts of Australia. The extreme degree of weathering that has ...
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12 votes

Is it possible to grow plants on Mars?

How different are Mars soil from Earth's soil? Mars has no soil. Soil has an organic component, which (so far as we know) is lacking in Mars regolith. Actually, the Viking probes may have found ...
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11 votes

Why can't plants grow on Mars?

All life as we know it requires liquid water as a medium (a polar solvent) in which the chemistry of life can take place. Mars surface conditions pretty much preclude the existence of liquid water. ...
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11 votes

Is there any reason Cyanobacteria or Lichens can't survive on Mars?

We don't really know. A study from 2012 suggests that lichens and cyanobacteria could indeed survive the "obvious" perils of Mars, including radiation, low pressure, and temperatures dropping as low ...
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10 votes

Why did the Chinese send flies and plants to the far side of the moon?

They did it for propaganda or pride mostly. What sprouted quickly died because it froze. They did not have a method to protect the biosphere from the temperature swings. This is what they expected ...
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  • 101
10 votes

Removing perchlorate from Mars surface soil

Perchlorate contamination is a problem on Earth. Essentially, there is a series of water treatments and bioremediation, the process of using biological systems to fix the problem. Here is a detailed ...
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9 votes
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Can plants thrive without atmospheric nitrogen?

Despite the fact that on Earth, Nitrogen is the most abundant element in the atmosphere, plants do not get their nitrogen from the air - it is just too hard to get it. A plant would need to expend ...
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8 votes

Why can't plants grow on Mars?

Life may once have existed on Mars, which is largely why so much exploration of it is being done now. There is evidence of flowing water, which implies a warmer climate and thicker atmosphere. But ...
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8 votes

Removing perchlorate from Mars surface soil

Apart from perchlorate treatment mentioned in @Chris's answer, there are some other methods which could be able to remove the perchlorate from the martian soil: Rinsing the soil with water. ...
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8 votes

Agriculture on an exoplanet

In general space based plants will probably be hydroponics so most likely initial agriculture will be indoors in vertical farms. Possibly using mechanically harvested/processed materials to carefully ...
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7 votes
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Where is that lunar-grown cotton seed sprout?

The announcement was first made by the vice principle of Chongqing University (the primary designer of the growth module) on the 15th of January and you can find the original article summary from ...
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  • 276
6 votes

Would it be feasible to use natural light to grow plants on Mars?

Yes. While Mars only receives about half of the light that Earth does, it doesn't have clouds or other similar items to deal with. Assuming you can have a dome that is very clear, you should have ...
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6 votes

How many plants would be needed to produce oxygen enough for 20 humans?

Plants produce oxygen by photosynthesis, where they convert light and CO2 into sugars which they can use to grow. Luckly for us, the oxygen is a waste stream which we can use. $${{6\ CO_{2}+6H_{2}O+...
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  • 569
5 votes
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What would be the ideal hydroponic crops for long duration travels?

Allow me to give the obvious answer of spirulina. Here's a NASA report from 1988 on the subject of growing food during space missions. I don't know if it's particularly different from any other NASA ...
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5 votes

Would it be feasible to use natural light to grow plants on Mars?

Roughly speaking Mars gets between 1/2 and 1/3 the light that Earth gets (depending on time of year) meaning you could probably grow plans that handle full shade on earth pretty well but most crop ...
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5 votes
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Agriculture on an exoplanet

There are a lot of specific factors that would be relevant for answering this. Here are a few: What is the composition of the planet's atmosphere? Is there any soil/regolith and what is it made of? ...
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4 votes

How could we grow plants on mars?

This question is rather broad so I will give a broad answer. Plants on Mars will require similar things to plants growing on Earth. All of these things: Sufficient Light Appropriate dark periods* ...
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4 votes
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Can a semipermeable greenhouse be used to extract CO2 from the Martian atmosphere and help provide oxygen to a colony without using a pump?

Osmosis against a total pressure gradient is absolutely a 'thing'. Plants and animals exploit this and active transport to move fluids around and they can definitely create pressure gradients. ...
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3 votes
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Can a symbiosis be sustained between plants and 1 person on Mars?

You might be interested in Biosphere 2 or other Artificial ecosystems, which attempt to answer this. While the results were impressive closure experiments set world records in closed ecological ...
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  • 239
2 votes

Would it be feasible to use natural light to grow plants on Mars?

There's some current scientific interest in figuring out photosynthesis in resource-short environments, such as low light. A recent example is the paper "Photochemistry beyond the red limit in ...
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2 votes

How many plants would be needed to produce oxygen enough for 20 humans?

A mature tree consumes 48 pounds (22 kg) of $CO_2$ per year.[1] The 22 kg of $CO_2$ is made of $\frac{\text{32 g $O_2$ per 1 mole}}{\text{44 g $CO_2$ per 1 mole}} * \text{22 kg $CO_2$} = \text{16 kg $...
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2 votes
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Mars greenhouse accessibility

The question regarding the lowest pressure required for plant growth was asked on the biology stack exchange The answer given there reports an experiment where vascular plants seemed to be at about ...
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