Blue-green algae can make a Mars colony sustainable

Research shows that Earth's hardy organisms can produce both food and oxygen for a future Mars colony.

Research shows that Earth’s hardy organisms can produce both food and oxygen for a future Mars colony.

For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that blue-green algae can survive in a Martian-like environment. This opens up the possibility that humans on Mars could live on their own crops without external inputs.

On Earth, blue-green algae have been of crucial importance. 2.4 billion years ago, they changed the atmosphere by producing oxygen through photosynthesis, paving the way for all organisms that need oxygen, including us.

In biological tanks (tv) it has been possible to grow blue-green algae (th) without other chemicals than those found on Mars.

In addition, blue-green algae have the unique ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into organic matter. They can thus produce biomass where no one else can. Both oxygen and biomass are the basic necessities of the future Mars colony.

Survive low air pressure

In numerous experiments, researchers at the University of Bremen in Germany investigated whether it was feasible to grow blue-green algae in an environment that resembled the conditions on Mars. In biological tanks, they were exposed to various mixtures of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, both of which are found in the atmosphere on Mars.

The experiments showed that these hardy organisms survive even if the air pressure is only a tenth of what it is here and also in an air pressure ten times higher than on Mars. True, the proportions in the tank had to be about 96% nitrogen and 4% carbon dioxide for the blue-green algae to withstand the pressure, but in the vapor sphere of Mars, these proportions are almost the opposite.

The long term vision is to make Mars habitable and livable. The hardy blue-green algae can play a crucial role in oxygen production.

The experiment nevertheless shows that the cultivation of blue-green algae is feasible with the materials available on Mars.

In the very long term, it is possible to think that blue-green algae could change the conditions on Mars in a similar way as they once did on Earth – and thereby color the red planet green and give it an oxygen atmosphere.

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