How Could We Sustain Life on Mars?

By Kaitlyn Honeycutt

Even if we were able to sustain life on Mars, how could plants perform their photosynthesis enough to give us enough oxygen for survival?

Mars: Background Information (NASA)

Mars is the fourth planet away from the sun. It is located approximately 142,000,000 miles from the Sun and 93,000,000 miles from Earth. Mars is much smaller than Earth. "Mars has about 15% of Earth's volume, it would take over 6 Mars volumes," says NASA. As every planet, Mars has a gravitational pull of 65.5% less than Earth.
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Is it possible to supply oxygen on Mars?

Could scientists and astronomers find a way for oxygen to be provided somehow? Maybe a large oxygen tank? "A person uses about 550 liters of pure oxygen each day," says www.quora.com. If there were a way for us to have a large oxygen tank, it would have to be gigantic. If just one person breathes about 550 liters of oxygen daily, then 20 people would breathe about 11,000 liters of oxygen daily. That is the equivalent of of a tank on a tanker truck!!

Atmosphere; How much oxygen to we need to survive 1 day?

Mars has a very thin atmosphere so life would be very difficult. Humans and plants need oxygen and protection from the sun. Without a large atmosphere, plants cannot grow because they might be subjected to more sun than needed which would cause them to die. If the plants cannot survive on Mars, then we cannot survive on Mars because they provide our oxygen. Could scientists and astronomers find a way for oxygen to be provided somehow? Maybe a large oxygen tank? "A person uses about 550 liters of pure oxygen each day," says www.quora.com. That is the equivalent of a tank on a tanker truck!!
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COLONIZE MARS (Documentary)

Colonize Mars Documentary

"Scientists and engineers are already designing everything we'll need to survive in this space colony," says the video above. Even though we are expected to be living on Mars 200 years from now in the 23rd century, these people are already making robots and special rovers with high powered technology for our supposed survival on Mars. "Living full-time in this alien world will be a relentless battle for survival." Scientists and engineers may be conjuring how we will survive on Mars, the struggle will truly be real on a planet such as mars. One scientist in the video says, "we will be staring out into an environment that is lethal to us." This is a very dangerous operation they are attempting to accomplish in the future, and even scientists know and accept that.

What would it be like to live in a dome for eight months?

"Everyone is allotted eight liters of water a day. That eight liters per day is everything you can drink, everything for cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and showering. That works out to be eight minutes of shower time a week. We have composting toilets, which reduces our water use. We have to bring food that is shelf stable for two to three years, as it would be on a Mars mission. We have freeze-dried fruits and vegetables and some meat. There's also a food study being performed by Cornell. One of the things that happens on a long-duration space mission is that you get food fatigue and everything starts to taste the same, so they're trying to figure out what foods we won't get sick of. So we have a really extensive spice kit. We can make our own yogurt. We can make bread. We have every type of grain and flour you can imagine. There are also some pre-made meals," says National Geographic in "What Will It Be Like to Live In a Dome for 8 Months, Pretending It's Mars."
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The Futuristic Domes

If scientists ever find a way for the human race to survive on Mars, we will live in domes.For the climate of Mars, this is the best way (and shape) for us to survive. Mars tends to have gigantic, powerful dust storms and a normal house wouldn't withstand the wind and dust. Space architect, John Spencer, explains "Domes are ideal structures for extreme environments say the desert or particularly Mars, and the reason is the dome creates the largest environment of enclosed space for the minimum amount of structure and mass."

More about the Atmosphere and Climate

Mars isn't the best place to live according to climate and atmosphere. The red planet is usually -81 degrees Fahrenheit. THAT'S EXTREMELY FRIGID! "Scorching radiation, thin air, and lethal dust storms," says Colonize Mars. As you may know, our atmosphere is made up of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, and 0.4% carbon dioxide. Mars, however, has more deadly gases that could kill a human. It contains 98% carbon dioxide, 1.9% nitrogen, 1.9% argon, and 0.1% oxygen.
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MOXIE

Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment, also known as MOXIE, is the new system for O2 (oxygen) production on Mars. "MOXIE collects CO2 from the Martian atmosphere, compresses and stores it, then electrochemically splits the CO2 molecules into O2 and CO. The O2 is then analyzed for purity before being vented back out to the Mars atmosphere along with the CO and other exhaust products," says http://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/mission/science/for-scientists/instruments/moxie/.

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How could we grow plants for more oxygen and food sources?

Using a UV light bulb would help the plants perform photosynthesis. With MOXIE, we could provide their CO2 (carbon dioxide) so they can help provide our O2 along with MOXIE. The negative effects of faux UV rays are that they are not as strong as the sun itself. Plants will not be able to perform photosynthesis as strongly as the Sun would let them. They might not be as healthy as plants here, but at least they would be getting the right amount of UV rays. The direct sunlight of Mars would kill a plant almost instantly. Mars may be frigid cold, it doesn't mean the sun shines lethally on the red planet. On Mars, the UV radiation is in extremely high levels which is severely dangerous to humans and plants. If a faux UV light is used, it would have to be set on special levels or the plants could die.

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Extra Mars Information

Works Sited

"Colonize Mars." Youtube. History Channel, 6 Dec. 2013. Web. 4 May 2016.


"Hecht, Michael. "Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment." Nasa. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2016.


How Much Oxygen Does an Astronaut Consume in a Day by Breathing? And How Much

CO2 Is Exhaled?" Www.quora.com. Skip Morrow, 5 Feb. 2014. Web. 2 May 2016.


Kelley McMillan. "What Will It Be Like to Live in a Dome for 8 Months, Pretending It's Mars?"

National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 17 Oct. 2014. Web. 02 May 2016