The food systems that will feed Mars could transform food on Earth

Growing food in space will rely on innovative agricultural technologies. Credit: NASA

By Lenore Newman and Evan Fraser

Could we feed a city on Mars? This question is central to the future of space exploration and has serious repercussions on Earth too. To date, a lot of thought has gone into how astronauts eat; however, we are only beginning to produce food in space.

Space launches are quite expensive. And with the growing desire to establish a human presence in space, we are going to have to consider food production in space. But the challenges are vast, requiring research into how plants respond to a variety of changes including to gravity and radiation.

As food and agriculture researchers, we explored this question in our latest book, Dinner on Mars. We believe that a sustainable Martian food system is possible—and that in building it, we’ll change food systems on Earth. However, this will take some out-of-the-box thinking.

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Africa will get a new $1 billion spaceport in Djibouti

The spaceport, expected to include seven satellite launch pads and three rocket testing pads, will be the first orbital spaceport on the continent.

Africa could soon get a new spaceport after Djibouti signed a partnership deal with Hong Kong Aerospace Technology to build a facility to launch satellites and rockets in the northern Obock region.

According to the preliminary deal, the Djibouti government will “provide the necessary land (minimum 10 sq km and with a term of not less than 35 years) and all the necessary assistance to build and operate the Djiboutian Spaceport.”ADVERTISEMENT

The $1 billion spaceport project will also involve the construction of a port facility, a power grid and a highway to ensure the reliable transportation of aerospace materials.

The deal’s signing was presided over by the president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, and the project is set to be completed in the next five years.

The spaceport is a massive milestone for Africa, making it the first orbital spaceport on African soil.

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Lynk launches world’s 2nd and 3rd commercial Cell-Towers-in-Space

Lynk Global, Inc. (Lynk), the world’s leading satellite-direct-to-standard-phone telecoms company, has reported the successful launch and deployment of two more satellites in the company’s commercial cell-towers-in-space constellation. These satellites are covered by the world’s first and only commercial satellite-direct-to-standard-phone license that Lynk received from the FCC in September 2022.

A unique capability that Lynk demonstrated during this launch is a new deployer system that supports the launch of multiple satellites at one time on the same ESPA-ring port, which enables the affordable launch of many more satellites.

Charles Miller, CEO of Lynk, said, “This launch extends Lynk’s leadership in the satellite-direct-to-standard-phone category. While others have just figured out that satellite-direct-to-phone is a big deal, we invented and patented the technology in 2017, started testing the technology in space in 2019, and now have three commercial satellite-cell-towers-in-space. We are years ahead of everybody else.”

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Join the hive: send your ideas for CubeSat swarms

We all know the saying that there is strength in numbers. The next revolution in space technology could be the use of swarms of tiny spacecraft, called CubeSats, that work together to achieve things greater than what any lone spacecraft can. CubeSats, assemble! 

A CubeSat is a miniature satellite made up of one or more standard-sized ‘units’. Each unit measures just 10 cm×10 cm×10 cm and weighs less than two kilograms. They are quick and cheap to produce and can carry all sorts of instruments on board. Almost 2000 of these tiny spacecraft have already been launchedinto space; while these have mostly operated alone, technological developments in recent years mean that we may soon use ‘swarms’ of tens of CubeSats that operate autonomously. 

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“Machine to produce oxygen”, Europe’s plan to create a long-term human presence on the Moon

Europe’s plan to establish a long-term human presence on the Moon

By SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA

A machine for the production of oxygen on the moon will go to space.

The European Space Agency is building the device to test whether astronauts can use the oxygen trapped in the lunar regolith (the layer of dust and rock that covers the surface of the Moon).

The device is expected to reach the moon by 2025, and if it works as hoped, the agency plans to add to this technology by building an oxygen production plant on the moon in the 2030s.

In addition to providing oxygen for humans, the machine can also help produce fuel for the spacecraft.

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Scientists plan to hit an asteroid with more than 9.6 million radio waves from HAARP

Low-frequency radio waves can reveal the intent and interiors of an asteroid.

By Rupendra Brahambhatt

A 500-foot-wide asteroid called 2010 XC15 will pass by Earth on December 27. While it has no intention of hitting us, it’s us who will hit the asteroid with a radio pulse.  

Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and NASA want to examine the 2010 XC15 space rock to test their preparation against Apophis. This dangerous asteroid might hit our planet in 2029. It is believed that on April 13, 2029, Apophis will be 10 times closer to Earth than the moon. 

The researchers will use the HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program) array to shoot 9.6 megahertz radio waves at the 2010 XC15 asteroid. HAARP is a government-funded research program that generally studies the ionosphere (part of Earth’s atmosphere at 50 to 400 miles above the surface). 

However, this will be the first time it will be employed to examine an asteroid.

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Wind Energy Could Power Human Colonies On Mars, Finds Study

By Monit Khanna

Researchers made use of a global climate model originally designed for Earth, to look at wind movement on the red planet. They used detailed info about Mars such as precise landscape, heat, energy, dust levels, solar radiation levels etc. which were taken from maps generated by Mars Global Surveyor and Viking missions. Based on this info, they created a simulation to show the kind of wind speeds seen across the planet during the day, night and its seasons

A new study conducted by NASA researchers reveals that if humans were to colonise Mars, they could generate energy using wind power, reveals a report by NewScientist.

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Lockheed Martin is Bursting the Bubble with Inflatable Habitats – Literally

Lockheed Martin Nextstep concept

By Keith Cowing

When developing new technology, rarely is having it explode a good thing.

Unless you’re demonstrating that an inflatable habitat is capable of surviving environments beyond the extremes of space.

As part of NASA’s NextSTEP program, Lockheed Martin is developing an inflatable structure technology to support human space habitation in low-Earth orbit, at the Moon and beyond.

Last week, Lockheed Martin reached a critical milestone in developing this next-generation technology (completely in-house) by successfully completing an ultimate burst pressure test, achieving a burst at 285 psi and more than six times the max operating pressure.

What’s a burst test? Pretty close to what it sounds like: a test that pressurizes a subscale or full-scale inflatable habitat until it literally bursts. The goal of the burst is to test the strength of the habitat many times beyond what it will experience in space to validate its design – similar to the structural loads testing typically done on other spacecraft like Orion.

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Wild Research Project Reveals How Future Cities on Asteroids Could Work

In what they deem a “wildly theoretical” paper, University of Rochester researchers imagine covering an asteroid in a flexible, mesh bag made of ultralight and high-strength carbon nanofibers as the key to creating human cities in space.

University of Rochester scientists show how asteroids could be future viable space habitats using physics and engineering principles.

During this past year, Jeff Bezos launched himself into space, while Elon Musk funded a space flight for a non-astronaut crew. Space collaborations between government and private entities, including Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’s Blue Origin, are becoming more common. However, with the recent emergence of the so-called “New Space” movement, aerospace companies are working to develop low-cost access to space for everyone, not only billionaires.

But for a future beyond Earth, humans will require places to accommodate homes, buildings, and other structures for millions of people to live and work. 

Thus far, space cities only exist in science fiction. But are space cities feasible in reality? And, if so, how?

According to new research from University of Rochester scientists, our future may lie in asteroids.

In what they deem a “wildly theoretical” paper, the researchers outline a plan for creating large cities on asteroids. Published in the journal Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, the scientists include Adam Frank, the Helen F. and Fred H. Gowen Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Peter Miklavčič, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering and the paper’s first author.

“Our paper lives on the edge of science and science fiction,” Frank says. “We’re taking a science fiction idea that has been very popular recently—in TV shows like Amazon’s The Expanse—and offering a new path for using an asteroid to build a city in space.”

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World’s first space rice seeds back from orbit

Feat will help scientists find sustainable food source for long-term exploration missions

Chinese astronauts of the Shenzhou XIV mission have returned with the world’s first rice seeds produced in orbit, a feat that will allow scientists to probe the effects of microgravity on rice growth and find a sustainable food source for long-term space explorations.

On Sunday night, astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe touched down at the Dongfeng landing site in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

They were in orbit for 183 days, during which they monitored the completion of China’s Tiangong space station and several life science experiments.

One such experiment involved reproducing the entire life cycle of rice for the first time in space, which begins with a seed germinating into a seedling and ends with a mature plant producing new seeds. The experiment began on July 29, and after 120 days in orbit, rice grains were successfully produced.

The new seeds, along with other biosamples, have been delivered to the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. They will be transferred to labs in Shanghai for further research.

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The new space race will drive innovation. Here’s where it goes next

Sixty years after JFK declared the US would go to the moon, America’s bold ambitions for space are back.

By Stephanie Condon

By 1962, the first space race was already underway. The Soviet Union had sent the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into outer space. America’s Alan Shepard followed soon after into suborbital space.

Then, with instantly iconic remarks, President John F. Kennedy upped the ante: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”.

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NASA Wants to Build Landing Pads on the Moon

BY ANDY TOMASWICK


NASA has started engaging with commercial partners are some out-there projects. One of the most recent is a six year, $57.2 million deal with ICON, a company based in Austin, Texas that specializes in in-situ resource utilization 3D printing technologies. 

With its recent step forward with the Artemis program, NASA hopes to return to the Moon in this decade and stay there. If astronauts do that, they will need infrastructure, including places to land, drive, and live. 

One of the best ways to create those places will be by utilizing resources that are already on the Moon, rather than shipping them directly, and expensively, from Earth. And ICON has proven itself to be one of the world’s most capable organizations at doing just that. Their 3D printing infrastructure system, known as Olympus, is useful for more than just making things out of regolith. 

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