Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 03 2020, @07:17PM   Printer-friendly
from the lots-of-MREs dept.

How to make the food and water Mars-bound astronauts will need for their mission:

If we ever intend to send crewed missions to deep-space locations, then we need to come up with solutions for keeping the crews supplied. For astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), who regularly receive resupply missions from Earth, this is not an issue. But for missions traveling to destinations like Mars and beyond, self-sufficiency is the name of the game.

This is the idea behind projects like BIOWYSE and TIME SCALE, which are being developed by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space (CIRiS) in Norway. These two systems are all about providing astronauts with a sustainable and renewable supply of drinking water and plant food. In so doing, they address two of the most important needs of humans performing long-duration missions that will take them far from home.

[...] In short, the ISS relies on costly resupply missions to provide 20% of its water and all of its food. But if and when astronauts establish outposts on the moon and Mars, this may not be an option. While sending supplies to the moon can be done in three days, the need to do so regularly will make the cost of sending food and water prohibitive. Meanwhile, it takes eight months for spacecraft to reach Mars, which is totally impractical.

So it is little wonder that the proposed mission architectures for the moon and Mars include in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), in which astronauts will use local resources to be as self-sufficient as possible. Ice on the lunar and Martian surfaces, a prime example, will be harvested to provide drinking and irrigation water. But missions to deep-space locations will not have this option while they are in transit.

[...] Technologies like these will be crucial when it comes time to establish a human presence on the moon, on Mars, and for the sake of deep-space missions. In the coming years, NASA plans to make the long-awaited return to the moon with Project Artemis, which will be the first step in the creation of what they envision as a program for "sustainable lunar exploration."


Original Submission

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday June 03 2020, @08:32PM (23 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday June 03 2020, @08:32PM (#1002928)

    it takes eight months for spacecraft to reach Mars, which is totally impractical.

    Nothing about the travel time makes it totally impractical - expensive yes, but if the ISS gets re-supplied every 3 months, or whatever, a similar supply schedule could be established for Mars. Some of the supply ships would be on longer (much longer) transit orbits than others, but the net energy required to transit from Earth to Mars orbit is the same regardless of how long you take in getting there.

    I wonder if the orbital mechanics mean that a ship scheduled to arrive at Mars at a non-optimal conjunction would actually have to be launched before one that arrives 3 months earlier at a more optimal conjunction...

    --
    John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +1  
       Interesting=1, Total=1
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   3  
  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday June 03 2020, @09:14PM (19 children)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday June 03 2020, @09:14PM (#1002939) Journal

    8 months is dumb. 3-6 months is doable, and even down to 1-2 months could be possible with in-orbit refueling. But you're right, the length of time doesn't matter that much. You won't be sending water too much outside of initial and emergency supplies, since unlike the ISS, you can obtain water on Mars or the Moon. A lot of dehydrated, calorie-dense food could be sent if payload capacity is high, and it can be grown later.

    Still, the Moon is a good place to get started. It lacks the useful carbon dioxide and nitrogen atmosphere, but it's much easier to reach, and you can get nearly constant solar power at the poles.

    All space endeavors would be made much easier with a cheap-to-build, fully reusable, orbital-refueling spacecraft. Let's hope they stop blowing up soon [teslarati.com].

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday June 03 2020, @09:45PM (16 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday June 03 2020, @09:45PM (#1002946)

      I wonder if 8 months is the transit time for least-optimal conjunction...

      In any event, they have a an agenda to push, and it's a good agenda, I just wish people wouldn't say dumb stuff to back up good ideas.

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Wednesday June 03 2020, @11:41PM (14 children)

        by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday June 03 2020, @11:41PM (#1002983)

        Since food and supplies can withstand far far higher acceleration g-forces than humans, the food could be gotten there much faster and much less costly with a giant slingshot. Laugh now, but you know I'm right. :)

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday June 04 2020, @12:45AM (11 children)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday June 04 2020, @12:45AM (#1003001)

          Should be one of the earlier moon development projects: a huge solar powered linear accelerator. Now, is it more practical to build it on the lunar surface, or at a Lagrange point, or maybe just above LEO?

          --
          John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
          • (Score: 3, Funny) by RS3 on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:22AM (10 children)

            by RS3 (6367) on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:22AM (#1003012)

            Ahh, spoken like a true dedicated engineer! All great ideas, but you've forgotten the financials my man! Giant rubber band launcher will sell tickets! We'll build it in the Daytona raceway infield and fill the stands. It'll pay for itself by the 4th launch! Eventually it'll generate enough cash to fund your lofty (cough cough) ideas. :)

            • (Score: 3, Funny) by JoeMerchant on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:00AM (9 children)

              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:00AM (#1003043)

              The Daytona infield is the only part of that track worth racing on - unless you're NASCAR, and again - that's definitely where the money is.

              Somehow we've got to get Budweiser to sponsor the space program, if we pull that off we can be at Alpha Centauri in 20 years.

              --
              John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
              • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Thursday June 04 2020, @05:08AM (8 children)

                by RS3 (6367) on Thursday June 04 2020, @05:08AM (#1003076)

                Okay, we offer to laser print a giant AB, or Bud, or something catchy on the moon.

                • (Score: 2, Funny) by anubi on Thursday June 04 2020, @07:30AM (4 children)

                  by anubi (2828) on Thursday June 04 2020, @07:30AM (#1003105) Journal

                  Heh, heh, a Bud Light...

                  --
                  "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
                  • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:18PM (3 children)

                    by RS3 (6367) on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:18PM (#1003228)

                    See, someone here gets it!

                    And, it'd be Corona-free, another selling point.

                    (see, we don't need to advertise Corona beer, cuz...)

                    BTW, wasn't "Anubi" the name of the mummy in one of Boris Karloff's mummy attack movies?

                    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anubi on Thursday June 04 2020, @09:58PM (2 children)

                      by anubi (2828) on Thursday June 04 2020, @09:58PM (#1003378) Journal

                      I could not resist that...being the moon is a source of illumination.

                      Anubi might be the mummy. I saw an image of Anubis, the dog, thought it looked cool, and kinda adopted it as an avatar. Anubis was already taken at another site I was on, Anubi wasn't, so I took it.

                      Egyptian god of the dead, I suppose, but I thought it was such a beautiful work of art.

                      --
                      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
                      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Thursday June 04 2020, @10:52PM (1 child)

                        by RS3 (6367) on Thursday June 04 2020, @10:52PM (#1003414)

                        I once mooned a camera. NOBODY was enlightened. It wasn't a full moon. In fact, pretty much not at all, but the shutterbug got the hint that I didn't want my picture taken.

                        I've always liked Egyptian archaeology, art, structures, etc. Roughly 10 years ago a good friend of mine did some work in Tut's tomb. Long story. Basically and very sadly there is a TON of "development" going on in the area, and the new population of course needs running water and wells and are significantly depleting the water tables under the pyramids, tombs, etc. Not intuitively obvious, but there's normally a fair amount of moisture coming up from underground, even in a desert (unless there's no water table, or it's thousands of feet down). Anyway, the ancient artwork, frescos, etc., are crumbling and falling off the walls because of it. Sigh.

                        Actually I though you were word playing on "a newbie". Either way, it's catchy.

                        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anubi on Friday June 05 2020, @01:45AM

                          by anubi (2828) on Friday June 05 2020, @01:45AM (#1003494) Journal

                          Thanks... That too. A newbie. It kinda fit.

                          I'm more a circuit designer, and dabble in most anything, albeit I will chase lots of squirrels up the wrong tree until I get the hang of it.

                          Like you, i find studies of the ancients of this area very fascinating. Especially the Sumerians. I am convinced something really big happened with this planet back then, and it's been used and covered up by those seeking leadership over the masses.

                          Something to do with stone masonry left as evidence.

                          There is a story here worthy of the finest Star Trek.

                          I surmise we were seeded. Planted here by some far more technically advanced. And we "lost it", hence my disdain for copyright. Technical knowledge is far too precious to sequester, and rot back to the nothing it came from.

                          --
                          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:00PM (2 children)

                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:00PM (#1003164)

                  Back in the '60s the proposal was that Coca Cola would do it...

                  --
                  John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
                  • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:21PM (1 child)

                    by RS3 (6367) on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:21PM (#1003229)

                    LoL, I do remember hearing that. They had that round logo, it would've worked well. They just needed a lot of red dust from Mars.

                    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:43PM

                      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:43PM (#1003245)

                      After people got irate about defacing the moon, there was even talk of some kind of chemical dispersal to temporarily make the logo "glow".

                      --
                      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2) by Muad'Dave on Thursday June 04 2020, @11:42AM (1 child)

          by Muad'Dave (1413) on Thursday June 04 2020, @11:42AM (#1003138)

          Good point, but somehow you have to have the energy to slow them down when they get to Mars, unless you want all your food reduced to ash on atmospheric entry.

          • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:23PM

            by RS3 (6367) on Thursday June 04 2020, @03:23PM (#1003232)

            No no, you do it at the right speed and angle of entry and your food is brazed to perfection.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Immerman on Thursday June 04 2020, @06:18AM

        by Immerman (3985) on Thursday June 04 2020, @06:18AM (#1003089)

        8.6 months (259 days) is the maximally efficient Hohmann transfer orbit during optimal planetary alignment ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hohmann_transfer_orbit [wikipedia.org] ) - one burst of acceleration at Earth to put you on a path that will just graze Mars' orbit at the opposite side of the sun (half an orbit later), and another burst to circularize your orbit (match speed with Mars) once you get there. Or vice-versa.

        That's the flight plan you'd probably use for bulk cargo flights where you don't really care how long it takes to make the trip.

        All other flight plans consume more energy since you have to accelerate to faster than necessary to reach Mars orbit, and then slow down to avoid overshooting, essentially throwing away energy in order to shorten the trip. You also only have a Hohmann launch window once every two years when the two planets line up properly - any other time you have to take one of those less-efficient flight plans. And for half the time the planetary alignment will be "backwards", so that the flight will take longer even with the less efficient flight plan (unless you plan to waste orders of magnitude more energy than required for the optimal flight)

        You are right about the net energy for the trips being the same, but so long as we rely on rockets for propulsion there's no way to reclaim the wasted energy. Giant spinning "slings" or other such mechanisms that could "catch" incoming ships and transfer their excess momentum to departing ones could make that a reality, but we're probably a long way away from building such things.

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:13PM (1 child)

      by hendrikboom (1125) on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:13PM (#1003169) Homepage Journal

      3-6 months is doable, and even down to 1-2 months could be possible with in-orbit refueling. But you're right, the length of time doesn't matter that much. You won't be sending water too much outside of initial and emergency supplies.

      It's the emergency supplies that may not be able to wait 1-2 months. They'd have to hope there aren't any emergencies.

      -- hendrik

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:40PM

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:40PM (#1003180) Journal

        When the first astronaut steps foot on Mars, there should already be 20+ Starships standing around in the vicinity filled with supplies. Ideally, with buildings, solar arrays, etc. already set up in advance by robots, but maybe they have to do it themselves. There should be thousands of gallons of water, with plenty of it available for closed-loop habitats that recycle as much water as possible. And there should be equipment for extracting and melting Martian ice water.

        $20 million per 100 metric tons could be the rate at which Mars is spammed with supplies. Compare to the ISS which was about $50 billion for 420 tons.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday June 04 2020, @06:38AM (2 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Thursday June 04 2020, @06:38AM (#1003093)

    >I wonder if the orbital mechanics mean that a ship scheduled to arrive at Mars at a non-optimal conjunction would actually have to be launched before one that arrives 3 months earlier at a more optimal conjunction...

    A lot is down to timing, but about half the time it would take longer when the planets are not in the right alignment. At least unless you want to spend a ridiculous amount of excess energy, and I think you'd need to invent high-thrust ion-drives or similar to be able to pull that off practically.

    What would tend to make more sense, especially if the ships are relatively cheap, is to just launch two years worth of supplies when the planets are in alignment. You don't need a supply ship every 3 months, just send 24 months of stabilized supplies when the shipping is cheap. That's part of why Musk is talking about needing thousands of Starships, because traveling at any other time gets dramatically more expensive, and for one year out of two, is still slower anyway.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday June 04 2020, @12:55PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday June 04 2020, @12:55PM (#1003162)

      Given drone ships' track record at Mars missions, I would think that risking 2 years of supplies on a single ship would be... inadvisable.

      Food / cargo doesn't get bored in transit - it doesn't consume resources over time, and while it would be nice to have fresh fruit, fish and steak, I think the food they send is basically permanently preserved.

      You bring up an interesting point: ion engines. Even if they're not super powerful, they would be effective on a long transit from Earth to Mars orbit, lots of time to collect solar energy. Assuming that the engines of the cargo shuttle are in a reusable section, that would be a good way to add flexibility to the transit scheduling - use a traditional chemical booster to get the bulk of the transit impulse, but use the ion stage for extra kick and possibly as a braking stage to slow down (safer than aero braking) from a fast transit.

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:43PM

        by Immerman (3985) on Thursday June 04 2020, @01:43PM (#1003182)

        Who said anything about a single ship? You send several, with essential and non-essential supplies distributed between them.

        But then, if you're getting ready to send passengers (or have already done so) then you've probably pretty much mastered the whole landing safely thing so it's not such a big deal.

        And as cheap as Starship is looking to cost, it's a pretty good bet that most of the ships you send aren't coming back - the steel would be useful on Mars, and the energy budget to refuel the thing could be better spent on Mars for other purposes. Especially if you send cargo in "flight-tested" ships that are reaching the end of their service life anyway - send them on a last hurrah to Mars. You only need to send back ships when you have passengers to return. And maybe the occasional ship full of engines salvaged from other ships - I think I've heard estimates to build the rest of the Starship are about $10M, while the engines themselves are about $5M each.

        Ion engines are indeed promissing, and something like an "orbital tugboat" could be very valuable - perhaps something like an ion-drive "SuperHeavy" alternative that could mate to the base of a Starship (or some sort of cargo module) and push it between planets. Unfortunately at present I don't think we have anything particularly suitable for moving Starship-sized payloads, at least not unless we're okay with the trip taking many years. Which could be fine for some supplies, but there's a lot of stuff that would suffer from years of intense interplanetary radiation.

        They're also (currently) basically useless as an alternative for aerobraking - even powered by a MW nuclear reactor their maximum thrust amounts to a rounding error compared to aerobraking. Once you're no longer in microgravity you need lots of raw power, and ion drives suck at that. Same issue if you use chemical engines for most of the impulse - the ion drives will take years to do what the chemical rockets do in minutes, and given how incredibly expensive they are to build they're probably not worth using except where they're the primary means of propulsion. But when transit time isn't a consideration they can really shine.