Robots don't need a whole lot to survive, and even thrive, on the surface of Mars (once they get there, anyway). But meeting even the most basic needs of humans will be a huge challenge — we'll need some kind of bioregenerative system to grow food, produce oxygen, clean our water and recycle nutrients. Still, that doesn't mean we can't take a page from the Mars rover Curiosity and go nuclear.
Future colonies on the moon or Mars could use nuclear-powered LED lamps for artificial sunlight, ensuring plants get enough rays during the two-week lunar nighttime or in the weakly lit Martian atmosphere. Over at Forbes, several plant biologists discuss how it could work.
Plenty of off-the-shelf grow lights exist, but to work on the moon or elsewhere, they would need huge batteries combined with solar panels — and if you have enough sun for solar panels, you probably wouldn't need to worry about grow lights. The problem with space environments, especially those beyond the protective influence of our planet in low-Earth orbit, is the constant bombardment of solar and cosmic rays as well as micrometeors. Sheltering sensitive plants below ground would offer some protection, but it would also eliminate the sun. A radioisotope thermoelectric generator, like the one powering Curiosity, could be enough to drive some LEDs for enough hours a day to induce photosynthesis.
Several teams of horticulturists are trying to develop plants that could thrive in space, like strawberries, for instance, or an entire bioregenerative greenhouse's worth of veggies. Still, long-term settlements would probably need cargo drops for quite some time, at least until space farms can become self-sufficient.
Bio-mass cargo drops + composting = both eventual heat source and nutrients for locally grown crops. Add some geo-thermal action along with their little nuclear generators, and it's doable. :)
Humans won't colonize the moon or space. Lets get real here. Colonizing in space is SciFi. We are stuck on this rock for the duration.
Now cyborgs? That is a different story. Cyborgs won't need food.
"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours"
- Stephen Roberts
We now have the power to reprogram rats with a virus and change their DNA. The scientist will reprogram your ass and make you a cyborg, then send you but to Mars and have you pick up rocks all day! With much of your negative comments, I do not believe many people will miss you!
The good news is while you are on Mars, you can grow you own garden via the LED lights and keep your cyborg tan a nice brown too.!
It's all scifi until we figure out how to make it work. So lets figure out it out.
Velociter Superare Futuris
Why not a system of fiber optics made to filter out harmful wavelengths? Build underground and funnel in the sun. Or 3d print out structures with the fiber bundles built in.
Just like the article said, 2 week nights and weak sunlight.
Sounds pretty simple. How long until we drop an automated plant/fish tank down there? Fish nibble roots, plants soak up fish poop. All the fish salad you can eat.
Look them up on instructables.
Umm, before we can power these LEDs we need to develop some better LEDs.
The existing ones are not that effective for plants, and quality LEDs are expensive and need to be replaced too frequently.
The only thing stopping space colonization is its "too expensive". Whatever that means.
Man needs the following to survive in space (in no particular order).
(2) Air and a means to turn CO2 back into O2 in that air.
(3) Food (calories, minerals, vitmins, and proteins).
(5) UV radiation aproximating sunlight.
(6) Moderated temperature.
(7) Protection from space (radiation, vacuum, stuff flying about).
This is a proposed solution to which? True, radioisotopic energy generation is nice and long lasting, but to power habitation would be a signifigant hurdle.
(1) Gravity is not solved by this, only a near-Earth sized object or inertia in a large craft would fix this.
(2) Air is easy enough, and plants would work to turn CO2 to O2 while trapping carbon into a food source - but you would need MANY plants for plants sake to generate the O2 needed for man.
(3) Growing food for man at even the most intensive of schemes (much less growing for O2) would require signifigant space, weight in water, and energy for circulation of air, water, and warmth.
(4) Water is heavy and these applications would need tons of it. Tell NASA you want to put 800 gallons of water into space and ask them the cost. There is a reason they recycle urine up there and bringing a full bladder back to Earth with you is probably considered treason.
(5) We need that light too, for vitD and other processes (likely the only part of this that current LED and radioisotope could produce enough for.
(6) Temperature loss is a constant in space, and a variable on rocks. Expect a good deal of energy to be expended dispelling or creating heat.
(7) Protection from space or planet conditions mean redundancy, durability (a property that usually necessitates in increase in mass of ship or planet depth), and radiation shielding (again, more mass).
So, until we can build things in space from materials sourced in space, since you can send up some extra cans of pure O2 and pressurized air for less than even the most modest of hydroponic systems.
I'm a robot and I need sex too. You do not?
Going back to the advancement of this LED technology, I really hope South America does not learn how to make good use of these LEDs for the benefit of growth and manufacture of illegal drugs.
It is a real world we live in and too I am against drugs as well.