Development and research program for a soil-based bioregenerative agriculture system to feed a four person crew at a Mars base
For humans to survive during long-term missions on the Martian surface, bioregenerative life support systems including food production will decrease requirements for launch of Earth supplies, and increase mission safety. It is proposed that the development of ``modular biospheres''- closed system units that can be air-locked together and which contain soil-based bioregenerative agriculture, horticulture, with a wetland wastewater treatment system is an approach for Mars habitation scenarios. Based on previous work done in long-term life support at Biosphere 2 and other closed ecological systems, this consortium proposes a research and development program called Mars On Earth™ which will simulate a life support system designed for a four person crew. The structure will consist of /6 × 110 square meter modular agricultural units designed to produce a nutritionally adequate diet for 4 people, recycling all air, water and waste, while utilizing a soil created by the organic enrichment and modification of Mars simulant soils. Further research needs are discussed, such as determining optimal light levels for growth of the necessary range of crops, energy trade-offs for agriculture (e.g. light intensity vs. required area), capabilities of Martian soils and their need for enrichment and elimination of oxides, strategies for use of human waste products, and maintaining atmospheric balance between people, plants and soils.