Project Statement – Investigate Mars Greenhouse Viability for Flowering and Medicinal Plants
Summary – It should be possible to find the optimum greenhouse design to produce flowers and medicinal plants in small amounts. Such plants with their aesethic and medical benefits would be useful for potential human inhabitation on Mars. Other research groups are looking into foodstuff production, this project is focused on flowers and medicinal plants only, in small amounts. From an engineering perspective, a greenhouse on Mars would need to maintain the pressure differential between the inside air pressure and the (very low) outside atmospheric pressue. To minimize leaks and to keep the construction and maintenance costs to a minimum, it would be preferable to minimize this pressure differential. The hope is that the lowered inside growing pressure may be compensated for when growing these plants through the use of additional nutrients, water, light, and/or genetic modifications.
Experimental Method – The experiment would be ongoing, and consist of two or more 10+ cubic foot grow enclosures. Fresh air is recirculated inside each air tight grow chamber, at increasingly less atmospheric pressure. The first would be kept at sea-level atmospheric pressure as the control. The remaining enclosures would be kept at increasing degrees of vacuum. Any ailing plants would be examined at the cellular level to determine the root cause of damage. Different plants species could be tested over time. Plant cross-breeds could be measured for health at varying lowered pressure levels.
Measure of Success – Iterating over several grow cycles, the minimum vacuum/pressure level and corresponding plant health would be noted for each plant species.
Project Plan – The grow enclosures would be located at my research location in Hayward, CA. I would maintain them over the course of the experiment. The follow up cellular research would be done elsewhere. Equipment needed would include microscopes and related equipment.
Community Involvement – I would like the bio community to become involved in offering suggestions for plant species and research topics, maintaining the grow boxes, and assisting with the follow up cellular and plant health investigation.
August 21, 2015