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Martian soil and what can be grown natively.

Several groups including NASA, Elon Musk and others hope to take people to Mars in the next five to ten years. If we get there it will be to stay for extended periods. People will also have to eat there and what is more logical than to grow your own food locally? Back in March, scientists from the Netherlands’ Wageningen University (http://www.wur.nl/en.htm) successfully grew ten different crops in Mars-like soil provided by NASA. But there was a catch: they couldn’t eat the food. They worried it contained heavy metals like cadmium and lead, which were present in the Mars soil stimulant. Well, good news: further research determined at least four of the crops do not contain dangerous heavy metal levels and are therefore edible, getting us one step closer to life on the Red Planet. The Wageningen team, led by ecologist Wieger Wamelink, tested radishes, tomatoes, rye, and peas. They tested the crops for cadmium, lead, aluminium, nickel, copper, chrome, iron, arsenic, manganese, and zinc. None of those compounds appeared in dangerous levels, and Wamelink said the results are “very promising.” Some of the heavy metal concentrations detected in the food were even less than those found in plants cultivated in regular potting soil. The plants were also tested for vitamins, alkaloids, and flavonoids. Whats in Mars Soil? (http://space.coop/workshop/wims.html) The five most abundant ingredients, account for almost 90% of the dirt taken from Mars samples are as follows: SiO2 - 49.5% Fe2O3 - 17.9% Al2O3 - 7.2% MgO - 7.7% CaO - 6.7% The Phoenix Mars Lander measured the pH of martian soil in one area, and it measured at an alkaline 8 or 9. That’s a level habitable by a broad spectrum of microbes and plant life. The soil, near Mars’s north pole, also contains ions such as calcium and chloride, as well as water-bearing minerals, at least in the first few centimeters below the surface. Moderately Alkaline Soil Plants: The following crops will tolerate a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 or greater: Artichoke (6.5-7.5) Arugula (6.5-7.5) Asparagus (6.0-8.0) Bean, pole (6.0-7.5) Bean, lima (6.0-7.0) Beet (6.0-7.5) Broccoli (6.0-7.0) Broccoli rabe (6.5-7.5) Brussels sprouts (6.0-7.5) Cabbage (6.0-7.5) Cantaloupe (6.0-7.5) Cauliflower (6.0-7.5) Celery (6.0-7.0) Chinese cabbage (6.0-7.5) Celeriac (6.0-7.0) Celery (6.0-7.0) Chinese cabbage (6.0-7.5) Chive (6.0-7.0) Cilantro (6.0-6.7) Claytonia (6.5-7.0) Collard (6.5-7.5) Cress (6.0-7.0) Endive/escarole (6.0-7.0) Fennel (6.0-6.7) Gourd (6.5-7.5) Horseradish (6.0-7.0) Jerusalem Artichoke/Sunchoke (6.7-7.0) Kale (6.0-7.5) Kohlrabi (6.0-7.5) Leek (6.0-8.0) Lettuce (6.0-7.0) Marjoram (6.0-8.0) Mizuna (6.5-7.0) Mustard (6.0-7.5) Okra (6.0-7.5) Onion (6.0-7.0) Oregano (6.0-7.0) Pak choi (6.5-7.0) Parsnip (5.5-7.5) Pea (6.0-7.5) Radicchio (6.0-6.7) Radish (6.0-7.0) Rhubarb (6.5-7.0) Sage (6.0-6.7) Salsify (6.0-7.5) Spinach (6.0-7.5) Squash, summer (6.0-7.0) Sunflower (6.0-7.5) Sunflower (6.0-7.5) Swiss chard (6.0-7.5) Tarragon (6.0-7.5) Tomatillo (6.7-7.3) Watermelon (6.0-7.0)
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Brayden DeVito
Co-Founder, Space Cooperative

Martian Springs

There are, at last count, at least eight for-profit companies and nonprofit foundations with plans to colonize Mars. Is Martian Springs discussion only? Or is there intent for the group to formalize and send people to Mars?
J . Bowman
company in pre-seed round

Mission Architecture Considerations for Mars Returned Sample Handling Facilities

NASA must hold samples returned from Mars in quarantine until the Sample Science Team determines their biological character and safety. A significant challenge, unique to NASAís needs, is how to contain the samples (to protect the biosphere) while simultaneously protecting their pristine nature for scientific studies. This paper presents an analysis of several mission architecture considerations for receiving, handling and analyzing these samples, known as Mars Returned Sample Handling (MRSH). The criteria in this design analysis include: location and types of facilities, transportation of samples or the Earth return vehicle, modes of manipulation; capability for destructive as well as non-destructive testing, avoidance of cross-contamination, sample storage, and retrieval within a closed system. http://spacearchitect.org/pubs/SAE-2002-01-2469.pdf
20171101.marc m. cohen passport photo
Marc M. Cohen
Founder of Space Architecture as a Discipline

Global Overview: Returned Astrobiology Sample Mission Architectures

This paper presents a global overview of current, planned and proposed sample missions. At present, missions are in progress to return samples from asteroids, comets and the interstellar medium. More missions are planned to Mars and the asteroids. Future sample return missions include more targets including Europa, Mercury and Venus. This review identifies the] need for developing a coordinated international system for the handling and safety certification of returned samples. Such a system will provide added assurance to the public that all the participants in this new exploration arena have thought through the technical challenges and reached agreement on how to proceed. All these future returned sample missions hold relevance to the NASA Astrobiology program because of the potential to shed light on the origins of life, or even to return samples of biological interest. The possibility that samples returned from other bodies to the Earth may contain biotic material or living organisms raises many considerations for preventing forward contamination of the samples and back contamination of the Earth and its biosphere. Multiple space-faring nations propose to conduct sample return missions, and the issue is whether they will adhere to comparable standards for sample handling and biocontainment. The restrictions on such a sample return are quite stringent and require further research and development to make possible the safe receiving and handling of extraterrestrial samples Cohen, Marc M. (2003 July). Global Overview: Returned Astrobiology Sample Mission Architectures (SAE 2003-01-2675). 33rd International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 7-10 July 2003. Warrendale, Pennsylvania, USA: Society of Automotive Engineers http://spacearchitect.org/pubs/SAE-2003-01-2675.pdf
20171101.marc m. cohen passport photo
Marc M. Cohen
Founder of Space Architecture as a Discipline

A Big Week for Mars News

This past week (July 23-29, 2018) has displayed a wealth of Mars News. Leading off the week was a US Congressional hearing about the “Journey to Mars.” The big scientific news from Mars was the discovery of what appears to be an underground lake 20 km long, which if it proves true, would amount to the first confirmed liquid water on Mars. In addition, Mars is passing through opposition with the Earth (on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun), in its closest pass in 15 years. And Elon Musk. What is perhaps most interesting in the news coverage is in the great diversity of the story angles. Space.com: Putting Boots on Mars Requires a Long-Term Commitment, Experts Tell Senators https://www.space.com/41289-congress-hearing-human-journey-to-mars.html UPI: Experts, lawmakers: NASA should focus more on Mars, less on moon Prof. Dava Newman (MIT), former NASA Associate Administrator, gives a powerful presentation in the video. https://www.upi.com/TopNews/US/2018/07/26/Experts-lawmakers-NASA-should-focus-more-on-Mars-less-on-moon/1381532618051/?upiss=Mars Washington Post Experts explain the importance of exploring Mars Peggy Witson, former Astronaut with the most time in space of any woman, gives a solid presentation. Dava Newman is magnificent. https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/health-science/experts-explain-the-importance-of-exploring-mars/2018/07/25/bbfb1c5c-9046-11e8-ae59-01880eac5f1dvideo.html?utmterm=.58959bb04ddf THE UNDERGROUND LAKE ON MARS raises the prospect of many interesting explorations and discoveries ahead. It suggests that Mars may be layered with a subterranean, er, "submartreanean" water table. There may be underground "canals," indirectly fulfilling the "canali" fantasies of the 19th century astronomers Schiaparelli and Lowell. These bodies of water may harbor signs of life past or present. Reuters: Underground lake found on Mars, raising possibility of life https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-mars/underground-lake-found-on-mars-raising-possibility-of-life-idUSKBN1KF1Z8 Scientific American: Deep within Mars, Liquid Water Offers Hope for Life Radar observations have revealed what appears to be a buried lake on Mars, the first-ever stable reservoir of liquid water found on the Red Planet https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deep-within-mars-liquid-water-offers-hope-for-life/ This article by Dennis Overbye in the NYT hits all the recent Mars stops: exploration, the lake, close approach to the Earth (opposition), Giovanni Schiaparelli's canali, Percival Lowell's "canals," and even Elon Musks wish to die there. NYT: Mars is Frigid, Rusty and Haunted: We Can't Stop Looking at It An oasis in the sky inspires our imagination. A series of discoveries refreshes our yearning for the red planet. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/science/mars-life.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news CNN: Don't pack your bags for Mars just yet This article presents a note of caution with the skeptical view of the significance of the lake of liquid water—it is at least a km or more below the surface and probably saltier than seawater on Earth. https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/29/opinions/water-lake-life-on-mars-opinion-lincoln/index.html MARS AT ITS CLOSEST OPPOSITION (APPROACH) TO THE EARTH IN 15 YEARS. Space.com: Mars at Opposition 2018: How to See It and What to Expect Samantha Matthewson performs a STEM public service by labelling Mars' close approach to Earth by its correct astronomical term: Opposition https://www.space.com/40588-mars-at-opposition.html LA Times: Mars Makes Closest Approach to the Earth In contrast with Space.com, which said it correctly, the LAT makes it sounds like than Mars is sidling up to the Earth—— and then what? http://www.latimes.com/nation/ct-mars-earth-approach-20180724-story.html UPI: Hubble Snaps Photos as Mars Makes its closest Approach to Earth The UPI commits the same error as the LAT, but redeems itself somewhat with a practical angle: NASA took advantage of Mars opposition to take some pictures. https://www.upi.com/ScienceNews/2018/07/27/Hubble-snaps-photos-as-Mars-makes-its-closest-approach-to-Earth/8691532709299/?upiss=Mars ELON MUSK QUOTES Finally the San Jose Mercury News, the "paper of record" for Silicon Valley compiled some Elon Musk quotes, including nuking Mars to make it "warmer." SJMN: Seven of the Wildest Things Elon Musk has Said https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/07/26/7-of-the-wildest-things-elon-musk-has-said/
20171101.marc m. cohen passport photo
Marc M. Cohen
Founder of Space Architecture as a Discipline

openstreetmaps.org for Mars

What would openstreetmaps.org for Mars look like? Openstreetmaps.org allows regular people to help build a map of every place on earth. It is a big editing toolbox that allows you to position roads, paths, buildings, and landmarks. If the same type of tool was available for Mars, what types of features would one place on Mars? Would it be for scientific purposes? Would it be for creating hypothetical cities on Mars? Or would it be a little of both? If something like this does not already exist, would this make a good "space mission activation process" proposal, or does it lack a certain novelty which other proposals contain?
Pete Brandt
Engineer