There’s no flights in and out, and all the food that the folks eat has to be either frozen, thermally stabilized, or occasionally, you get a little bit of lettuce or a tomato out of that greenhouse, and it’s the highlight of your day. And how much natural light or full spectrum artificial light could you bring to bear on an agricultural project, likely indoors? All rights reserved. When we look at the full suite of evidence — at everything we’ve learned about Mars — there are five possibilities for the history of life on the Red Planet. And we’ve observed solid sub-surface ice, snows, and even frozen surface water on Mars in real-time. And if you’ve seen The Martian, you know that getting from point A to point B can be both slow and dangerous, with limited battery power and lots of sharp rocks littering the surface. Do I need to erase that image? I want to thank you all for joining me today. FLORA LICHTMAN: We have a tweet from Damian. Yes, Stan is absolutely right that the humidity in a capture system, say, in something like a hab module on a Martian colony would be able to capture most of the moisture, not just that you’re losing from your body, but that you’re also perspiring through your breath and your respiration. By reaching into progressively deeper layers of Mars, investigators may first encounter spores associated with a relatively recent geological era. Drilling down into the sedimentary rock of Mars and searching for fossilized life forms, or even metamorphosed carbon-rich inclusions, could potentially reveal the evidence necessary to validate this scenario. Is it like the subway? And also, because they’re low light, the ability to potentially grow some of these fungi as a dual purpose crop. Astronomers have long hypothesized that Mars’ furrowed surface indicates the presence of liquid water for a long time. This is, again, an ambiguous signal at best, as inorganic, geochemical processes could be seasonal and result in the release of methane, but organic, biological processes could cause this as well. She joins us via Skype. Or if you just basically want to get from point A to point B. ARIEL EKBLAW: There you go. Those colorful features that early observers and theorists had assumed were biological in nature are merely the result of light scattering off cyclic dust storms that are generated when Mars’ polar ice caps sublimate each summer. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. And so you just need to determine how close you can get to perfect vacuum to determine the altitude you want to cruise at. While Mars may be preferable to closer options like Venus with ... years will involve off-the-shelf equipment and supplies from Earth," writes Stephen Petranek in his book How We'll Live on Mars. JOHN-PAUL CLARKE: You can use it for pretty much any of those purposes. At the first Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence conference, organized by Carl Sagan in 1971, Sagan reported to the public that it “is not unlikely there are civilizations in advance of our own elsewhere in the galaxy, and that we have means currently at our disposal to detect them.” The radio searches Sagan championed for finding these advanced civilizations have already scanned nearly 1,000 stars; however, they’ve found no significant traces of intelligent life. They’re a group that just came to the Media Lab over the weekend for our Beyond the Cradle conference, which brought together about 60 leading thinkers, visionaries, and builders for the future of space exploration. So you’re using the same principle. The water that you exhale with each breath– you would want to capture that on a desert planet, but on Mars, again, it’s going into the cabin atmosphere, and we’ll pick it up in the dehumidifier. I think you’re going to end up with nice, fluffy pancakes. FLORA LICHTMAN: I’m thinking of those tiny airplane bottles. Hey, Andrew. If this is the case, then there are still organisms to be found beneath the Martian surface, perhaps in the shallow sands just a few feet or even mere inches below our spacecraft. Whether water indicates life or not has not yet been determined. With the chemistry going on in the Martian soil, you’d want to make sure you ran that through some filtration before you chugged it down. FLORA LICHTMAN: Great, what’s your question? In a sealed habitat, it’s going to end up in your humidity removal system, which you have to have. This is the most optimistic, but still scientifically viable, view of life on Mars. We have no idea whether Mars’ gravity is enough to keep your bone density healthy, because we don’t have any data between 0 and 1 G. So that’s one of the things we’re going to learn when we go to Mars, is whether you have to exercise that much extra to keep your bones healthy, or whether the gravity there is enough to keep your bones healthy. These are just a few of the many lines of evidence that point to a watery past on Mars. However, one burning question still remains: What will happen if a space agency discloses the discovery of alien life? As of yet, there is no surefire evidence for either past or present Martian life. Stan, what would we eat on Mars? Stan Love is a NASA astronaut and planetary scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Mars, along with its thin atmosphere, as photographed from the Viking orbiter. But we’re probably not going to take tigers with us. Or would they be fluffier? If it's organics, the author will lose a bet with physicist Robert Garisto! The closest analog we have to that would be the very small, brightly lit greenhouse room they have at the South Pole station in Antarctica for the long winter. John-Paul Clarke is a professor of aerospace and industrial and systems engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. DesignCurial talks to internationally recognised space architects Guillermo Trotti, president of Trotti & Associates, and Brent Sherwood, programme manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who give us an idea of what our homes on Mars would look like and how soon this might happen. Some of this is thinking about space food and, yes, even space cocktails, like you mentioned with Stan. Then, a little more than three billion years ago, Mars’s atmosphere was stripped away by the Sun, drying up any liquid surface water and leading to Mars’s current appearance. And that includes Earth. And so you’re most likely going to see those fungi grown in something like a food computer, which actually brings me to the second example, which is fantastic work being done at the MIT Media Lab from the Open Agriculture Initiative, with whom we’re collaborating for our space food research theme. From afar as well as ... [+] up close, there are no obvious, compelling signs of past or present life on the planet, although there are some ambiguous points that could either favor or disfavor life. However, it’s important to remember that even if we do discover spores living in the shallow soil of Mars, that doesn’t necessary mean they are of martian origin. What I would point listeners to is Chris Mason’s work at Cornell. [We thought we knew dinosaurs so well, but this paleoartist has new visions of ancient creatures.]. The best-known example of this kind of protected ecosystem is what’s called Earth’s deep biosphere, an extensive network of microorganisms encased in solid rock down to about 6 miles (10 km) underground. All other experiments came back negative. Thanks for having me, Flora. Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This is Science Friday and I’m Flora Lichtman sitting in for Ira Flatow. Well, a few impacts likely go the other way as well: sending Earth-borne material to other worlds, including Mars. Ariel? Water will be precious. We’re likely only talking about single-celled life, perhaps not even reaching the complexity of a eukaryotic cell, but life on any world other than Earth would still be a revolution for science.
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