Growing plants in a Greenhouse delivers oxygen and food. It can play an important part in human recreation. The sunlight is not bright enough on Mars to allow usual terrestrial plants to thrive, but it provides a valuable part of light energy for plants.
The greenhouse will be constructed from transparent material, allowing maximum sunlight to pass, generating an artificial "greenhouse effect". The spectral properties of the material should be optimized to match the absorption characteristics of chlorophyll, maximizing the energy gain.
Plants need a mix of air pressure and temperature. The greenhouse must be strong enough to hold that air pressure, and it must be insulating to hold the temperature inside.
Additional energy is necessary to light and heat the greenhouse.
Side-lit Greenhouse Concept
The Mars Foundation concept for a greenhouse involves the maximum use of local materials to avoid waste, maximize energy input and optimize space. Spawned from the Hillside settlement design, the greenhouse would most likely be located inside/next to a hill side (possibly in the location of Candor Chasma). Therefore regolith or some other absorbant material could be suspended above the greenhouse to protect occupants and plants from harmful radiation. The source of light would therefore be directed from the side, via an array of adjustable mirrors. A system of vents and ducts would allow warm air to circulate, perhaps even used to heat the main habitat.
Flora and fauna
Plants can be grown either in liquid fertilizer (hydroponics) or in soil. Many plants live in symbiosis with microbes and insects. Bees can be used to pollinate the blossoms for fruit plants. Probably, the greenhouse is less labor-intensive with as many natural processes as possible.
- How much greenhouse area is needed per person for food production?
- How many persons are needed to work in the greenhouse to produce enough food for a hundred persons?
- How much additional energy is needed per square meter?
- What temperature and air pressure do plants need?
- What air pressure is needed for persons to work in the greenhouse?
- What transparent materials match the absorption characteristics of chlorophyll?
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