Mars will feed a million settlers.


Martian city. Twitter image Ilona Mask    In the science fiction book and the movie The Martian, the astronaut survived more than 500 days on Mars, growing potatoes. A real human colony must fully provide itself with food. And not just potatoes, but all the substances necessary for life. According to a computer model developed by physicists from the University of Central Florida, this is quite real. Scientists have calculated that a certain set of plant crops, insects and artificial meat from the bioreactor will allow approximately 53 years (about 100 Earth years) to increase the population to a million people, and by this time the colony will not depend on food from the Earth.    The scientific article was published on August 30, 2019 in the journal New Space (doi: 10.1089 / space.2019.0018).   Companies like SpaceX have done a lot to get people to Mars. NASA has a plan of flights to the Red Planet for decades. But few people think how to actually organize a long-term settlement.    For example, NASA’s Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0 involves outposts to bring people back to Earth. They do not assume that people will live on Mars. Therefore, NASA does not think about how to use local resources to support the lives of settlers, except for the limited case of producing fuel for the Mars Ascent Vehicle, which should take off from the surface.    Plants or other products produced on the surface of Mars are considered only as a minor dietary supplement, as on the International Space Station. The recent Evolvable Mars Campaign project has taken some steps towards a sustainable presence, but it still only provides for small crews and short departures.    The emergence of commercial space companies with ambitious goals may violate these canonical architectures, the authors of the scientific work say. The stated goal of SpaceX is to create an independent civilization on Mars, with the sending of cargo ships, and then crews. The first launches are planned in three to five years. Missiles for the transportation system are already being built and tested. Detailed plans have not been published, but the approximate calculation of SpaceX is:       The initial crew of about 12 people.    Ships of 100-200 passengers are sent in batches in windows that open every 26 months.    The creation of a permanent colony of about 10 6 settlers in 50-100 Earth years.     By establishing transport links, SpaceX hopes to encourage corporations and individuals to move to Mars and develop projects to support the growing settlement. On this scale, the use of Martian resources (in situ resource utilization, ISRU) will become inevitable for economic reasons, although there is no way to get rid of cargo supply ships from the Earth for materials such as uranium and platinum group metals, the concentration of which in the Martian crust may be too low for prey. These elements are especially useful for nuclear power (uranium) and the production of electronics (metals).    Growing food on Mars will be one of the most complex ISRU processes, but there are no other options to maintain a constant habitat.    Five basic types of materials for the Martian settlement:       energy sources;    water;    oxygen;    Construction Materials;    food.     The first four are abundant on Mars in extractable form:       solar energy, probably supplemented by nuclear reactors;    hydrated minerals and ice;    atmospheric CO 2;    derivatives of regolith for building materials.     But food is not available and cannot be easily created from the raw materials present on Mars (i.e., in a simple chemical reactor). This raises the question of how a million people will eat on a planet without flora and fauna. Relying on food from Earth is a bad decision. As the population of Mars grows, it will increasingly depend on the Earth. This contradicts the idea of ​​a self-sufficient civilization.    Food must be produced on Mars using local resources. The authors of the scientific article evaluated various food sources and quantitatively modeled the balance between food products produced locally on Mars and imported from Earth. Given the predicted delivery of man by commercial flights to Mars already in the mid-2020s, they do not consider this discussion a distant science fiction. On the contrary, this is an extremely practical issue that should be taken into account when developing the Martian settlement.     Food Sources and Food Processing According to the authors, on Mars, you can get products that are more or less similar to Earth. But there are differences. First, Mars will have to live without livestock, dairy products, eggs, and farm-raised animal protein. All this exorbitantly consumes energy, earth and water. Growing animals to obtain