When we go we will take plants with us. In fact, well send them first.
Using the martian soil and atmosphere for a plant growth module Near-term missions
Life to Mars An organism-level test of soil biohazard, environment, radiation, and martian gravity. A technical and programmatic basis for advanced plant-based life support systems. Provides a wonderful opportunity for public involvement (FTD: Flowers to Mars). Symbolic as first organism to grow, live, and die on another world. Helps diffuse back contamination issues for sample return and human missions. Biological precursor to human exploration. Consistent with planetary protection with no inadvertent forward contamination of Mars.
Mars Exploration Program Advisory Group GOAL IV: PREPARE FOR HUMAN EXPLORATION B. Objective: Conduct in-situ engineering science demonstrations (investigations listed in priority order) 7.Investigation: Demonstrate plant growth in the Martian environment. Demonstrate the ability of the Martian environment (soil, solar flux, radiation, etc.) to support life, such as plant growth, to support future human missions. Validation requires in-situ measurements and process verification. http://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/
Do it on the Moon first Partial gravity Radiation Planetary protection
Mission Concept - Lunar plant growth module mission as a precursor for Mars. - Step towards Martian greenhouses for human exploration. Mars Moon
Advantages of Lunar Precursor Mission · Close proximity to Earth [3 days (Moon) vs 6 months (Mars)] · Easier landing [fewer unknown design variables, i.e. no atmosphere] · Continuous communication during mission [always on lunar nearside] · Technology demonstration of plant growth chambers, engineering systems · Demonstrate capability to comply with planetary protection guidelines before landing on prime astrobiological target of Mars
Landing Sites Requirements Nearside of Moon for continuous line-of-sight communication with Earth Minimal terrain-related landing hazards (flat surface with low slope, minimal rocks and boulders, sufficient regolith coverage if using lunar soil) Land on terminator to allow for maximum mission lifetime (limited by sunlight availability) Suggested landing site is Oceanus Procellarum because a) meets selection criteria and b) previous in situ studies from Luna 9, Luna 13, Apollo 12, Surveyor 3.
Lander Operations Timeline HIGH NOON Day 7 DAWN Day 1 DUSK Day 15
The Antarctica Model Fifty years of continuous operations, 1-15 month tours. Three permanent bases with temporary field camps. Dec 1956: Bases established, IGY Cold War competition. Science exploration was rationale, NSF assumed responsibility for science in 19XX. 1970s, 1980s: US Antarctic research program operated as a part of foreign policy & military preparedness for cold weather operations. 1990s: Cold War ends, military activities in USARP reduced. 2000: Helicopter transport provided by private sector. 2005: Civilian science (NSF) managed program entirely. Contractor operation of base (Ratheon Polar Services) Air Force provides transport to Antarctica, Coast Guard provides ice breaker. 2006: NSF directed to assume operation of ice breakers.
Applying the Antarctic Model to the Moon 2018: NASA establishes scientific research base on Moon. 2023: Base declared operational. Geological science activities become part of NSF. NASA focuses on Mars (and beyond). NASA provides transportation to and from Moon. 2030: Private sector provides transport to and from Moon. NASA is working on Mars.