My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: @MIT Study on Mars One - Why Staying Alive for 68 Days Eating Vegetables means Oxygen has a License to Kill

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

@MIT Study on Mars One - Why Staying Alive for 68 Days Eating Vegetables means Oxygen has a License to Kill

Fans of the Dutch-based Mars One Reality TV Program, we have a problem, Houston. For the next half hour, see how many references to television shows you can spot in my article!

According to a research paper done by five (5) MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) graduate students, the first set of colonists on Mars One in 2024 will die within sixty eight (68) Days of Our Lives style as reported in the article “The reason Mars One colonists could die will surprise you”, published October 9, 2014 by Eric Mack, CNET News.

The MIT graduate students who did this PSA(Public Service Announcement) type study As the World Turns, no doubt possibly upset that they were not selected to for Mars One, are follows:

1.      Post graduate MIT Student, Mr. Sydney Do
2.      Post graduate MIT Student, Mr. Koki Ho
3.      Post graduate MIT Student, Mr Samuel Schreiner
4.      Post graduate MIT Student, Mr. Andrew Owens
5.      MIT Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems, Dr. Olivier de Weck

The main reason for this morbid prediction is that the My Favourite Martian colonists will basically suffocate to death due to an improper mixture of breathable gases. This is not to mention that the project budget of US$6 billion will explode, thanks mainly to sending spare parts to keep equiptment running.

No matter how much TV sponsorship Mars One will get from people across the world to watch the first Gilligan Island astronauts live to Die Another Day, it won’t be enough to maintain the Mars One Project.

As expected, CEO of Mars One Bas Lansdorp has responded by defending their plans, stating Everything is Awesome and it's just Men at Work, quote: “There are many problems between today and landing humans on Mars, but oxygen removal is certainly not one of them”.

So are they just upset about not being among the lucky 200,000 Jeopardy contestants selected from among those who had signed up in 2013 to be a part of the Mars One Reality Show with an Oprah Winfrey giveaway at the end as reported in the article “200,000 Apply For One-Way Trip to Mars”, published Sept. 11, 2013 By TIME Staff, TIME.

Or are the 200,000 Martian heading on a One Life to Live one-way ticket ride, where they are shown to American ad the World is Not Enough, suffocating to death on live TV as pointed out in the article “Think You Could Live on Mars? Think Again”, published Oct. 13, 2014 by Jeffrey Kluger, Time.

Stay tuned for a preview of the new Soap Opera coming 2024 titled “One Life to Live on Mars One”.

MIT Study on Mars One – Game of Thrones as All Men must Die

According to the MIT Study, the first four (4) colonists that will be landing in 2024 will get to spin the Wheel of Fortune and choose how they'd like to die in the next sixty eight (68) days:

1.      Suffocation
2.      Starvation
3.      Incineration

But before Death comes knocking on their door, the first problem they'll face is constructing the Mars One Habitat in the first place as noted in the article “MIT outlines why the Mars One mission will fail”, published October 14 2015 By Robin Burks, Techtimes.

According to the Mars One website, the modules will be lifted up to the Red Planet using six (6) Falcon Heavy rockets. Problem is, the four (4) astronauts who will be sent up afterwards will have to spend most of their days Lost in Space recovering those modules as they'll be scattered across Mars.

It might be possible to make sure they all land in the same general area using GPS and other telemetry data, so that problem is somewhat solvable. A module might be left in orbit with as TV Camera so as to film the four (4) Martians, Survivor Style, as they spend their first few days putting their Mars One Habitat together before they run out of food and Oxygen (O2) in their pods.

Interconnecting the modules might not be so easy, even with a planet that has 40% the gravity of Earth, stuff that weights 4.54 Kg (10lb) on Earth would weigh 1.81 kg (4lb) on Mars. Thus, objects are still heavy to lift even on Mars, never mind what you saw in the movie John Carter.

The amount of energy they'd have to expend just dragging modules scattered as far apart as 1 kilometer would be very draining, even if they all landed in the same general area.

Mars One can make thing easier by using inflatable Bigelow AeroSpace's Bigelow Expandable Activity Module  as described in my blog article entitled “Bigelow AeroSpace's Bigelow Expandable Activity Module - Italian Mafia Bigelow AeroSpace Alpha Station Casino using inflatable BEAM Modules” to get their settlement up and going quickly.

This as the Martian dust storms that frequently kick up on the planet can be very fierce and even in a spacesuit, you can easily get killed if you’re caught in a really violent one that may have Category 5 hurricane winds.

Time now for a commercial break sponsored by Bigelow. We’ll be back with you preview of the new Soap Opera “One Life to Live on Mars One” after these messages!

Mars One Base camp up – Staying Alive means eating Vegetables and Pond Fish

But let's assume the best for now and somehow they succeed in putting together their habitats and plant a few crops of food. This is necessary as it’ll be another two (2) years before supplies are scheduled to be sent up to them, taking approximately seven (7) months for supply rockets to reach them from Earth.

MIT Graduate student Sydney Do estimated that they'd need 3,040 calories from their food to stay alive in the harsh Mars environment. So the MIT research students estimate that the four (4) astronauts would plant the following crops to provide a reasonably balanced diet:

1.      Beans
2.      Lettuce
3.      Peanuts
4.      Potatoes
5.      Rice
6.      Wheat

Already there are other problems with the Mars One Estimates as it relates to size of the greenhouse, assuming that they could build one from day one, as growing food is important. They also estimate that they'd need a greenhouse about 200 square meters, as opposed to 50 square meters as estimated by the Mars One planners.

Mars One plans calls for the greenhouse to share the same space as the living quarters of the four (4) astronauts. Also, they'd need to extract water from Martian soil for growing plants in the greenhouse, growing Fish in their aquaponics farm in the greenhouse as well as for general hygiene, as you can STILL get cholera in space.

Travelling to the polar ice caps to get ice and melt it to get liquid water might not be such a good idea, the MIT Study points out. Recycling water as they do on the ISS (International Space Station) using the same technology might help though!

One such necessary recycling technology is shower that recycles water made by Orbital Systems to recycle water used for bathing and general bathroom hygiene as explained in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “Orbital Systems Shower of the Future is a Water Recycler for your Favourite Martian”.

Heating Martian soil to free liquid water not only requires energy that needs to be harvested from solar panels, an untested concept but the ice might contain unknown Martian microbes, causing sickness, Andromeda Strain Style!

Plus, that’s energy that’ll be needed to run the Mars One Base, recharge Batteries to last the night and do the necessary scientific work required to make the trip worthwhile.

So will our four (4) adventurers survive on veggies and fish alone or will they become cannibals and eat each other? Stay tuned as the new Soap Opera “One Life to Live on Mars One” returns after these messages!

Mars One Base Greenhouse – Too much Oxygen is a License to Kill

But let’s think positive and say they overcome that minor hiccup as it relates to food from the greenhouse.

As the Lettuce matures, peaking at about thirty (30) days after planting, it pushes the Oxygen (O2) level past a concentration of 0.3 mol per dm-3, which is unacceptably high. This could tip the balance of Oxygen (O2) to Nitrogen (N2) to the point where it could cause an explosion.

Being hungry humans, the four (4) would consume the lettuce along with re-hydrated meat-in-a-can and fish. Lettuce goes well with that, causing the Oxygen (O2) level to drop back down to safer levels.

But the danger returns thirty (30) days later at the sixty eight (68) day mark when the wheat and rice mature, pumping more Oxygen (O2) and raising the Oxygen (O2) levels back up to 0.3 mol per dm-3.

With too much Oxygen (O2) inside the living habitat an unknown space-tested technology to exclusively remove the excess Oxygen (O2) without removing the nitrogen needed to pressurize the pods, their Nitrogen (N2)/Oxygen (O2) mixture will become unbearable. Death from suffocation is certain in sixty eight (68) days with the excess Oxygen (O2) again raise the Spectre of Death by Explosion once more.

Ironically, the Mars One residents might exit, stage left even before that, dying of exhaustion due to starvation and even Carbon Dioxide (CO2) poisoning. This is as albeit the food thus far is nutritious, the caloric intake would be way below the 3,040 calories that are needed to stay active on Mars.

They’d soon start to slack off on replanting and an excess of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) might build up if they start raising fish in their makeshift aquarium using the water they melted from the Martian Soil.

“One Life to Live on Mars One” will be back after these short commercial breaks. We'll be exploring a “what if” scenario where the first four (4) Martian don't die.

Mars One Colonists after 68 Days - Too many Astronauts spoil the Space Station

But the problems don't end there.

Let's say the colonists manage to successfully deploy some technology that can discriminate Oxygen (O2) from Nitrogen (N2) and remove the excess Oxygen (O2) while preserving the correct Oxygen (O2) /Nitrogen (N2) mixture.

According to CEO of Mars One Bas Lansdorp, he claims that they can use oxygen concentrators that are used to remove excess oxygen from hospitals and operating theaters via a process called Pressure Swing absorption as described in the article “The reason Mars One colonists could die will surprise you”, published October 9, 2014 by Eric Mack, CNET News.

Problem with this idea that the MIT Study revealed is that it hasn't been space-tested on the ISS (International Space Station). Many things that work on Earth have to be space tested to see if they’d work in a zero-gravity situation, let alone on a planet with 40% gravity.

If it were deployed on the Mars One Mission, they’d be the Guinea Pigs to test it out in a lower gravity.

Examples of technology similar to Pressure Swing absorption readily come to mind. One such is the University of Southern Denmark's Oxygen (O2) absorbing Cobalt Crystals as explained in my blog article entitled “University of Southern Denmark Oxygen-phillic Cobalt compound - Organo-Crystalline Cobalt means Conquest of Outer Space and Ocean is Possible”.

Also, they can utilize Laser Pyrolosis to convert excess Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to Oxygen (O2) and Carbon as explained in my blog article entitled “University of California Team decompose Carbon Dioxide to Oxygen using a UV Laser - How Gas Pyrolysis can create lighter Spacesuits and Life on other Planets”.

If they had the situation under control, survived past the sixty eight (68) days mark and one hundred and thirty (13) days or two (2) years later more colonists came, they’d create more problems as noted in the article “Humans won't last more than 68 days on Mars, MIT finds”, published Oct 15, 2014 by Kounteya Sinha, Times of India.

First, there would have to expand the greenhouse to plant more food to make sure everyone has the required 3,040 calorie high nutrition diet to make it through the Martian Day. It would also require more equiptment as well as result in more wear-and-tear in their currently deployed equiptment.

The MIT Study point out that this will result in subsequent re-supply mission requiring as much as 62% of their payload would be stocked with spare parts to fix damaged equiptment. Also, they'd need some fifteen (15) Falcon Heavy rockets laden with supplies costing some US$4.5 billion dollars added to the modest US$6 billion budget that Mars One had set.

3D Printing spare parts using Martian soil as the starter material requires sophisticated 3D Printing technology which hasn't been space-tested and just doesn't exist as yet to produce precision parts and components needed for most high-end space-tested gear.

Mars One 2 Earth years Later – Psychological problems and Nutritional deficiencies

The new colonists would also notice that the four (4) Martians who had spent the initial two (2) years on Mars might not be in such good shape both physically and psychologically, itself a worrisome problem. We have never had human stay on the ISS longer than two (2) years; there no telling what two (2) years on Mars will do to a human both physically and psychologically.

Something tells me even though Mars One might have a these problems solved by 2045, their Reality TV show concept won’t generate enough revenue to cover the costs of maintaining the colony.

What can I say, that’s show business!

I suspect by the time the other colonists join the original four (4), it'll start to look more like Family Feud than the Brady Bunch as human nature might start making the first Martians competitive. The original four (4) Martians may have developed Psychological problems and Nutritional deficiencies by the time the other 200,000 colonists come to give them a helping hand.

Plus, with improved space travel, 3D Printing and propulsion technology by 2045, wouldn’t a round trip to Mars makes more sense? Regular Citizens of Earth and Scientists could come and go as they needed to instead of worrying that they’d be coming to die on the Red Planet.

Tune in next time for another exciting episode of “One Life to Live on Mars One”.

Here’s the link:

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