NASA Exploring Algae For Oxygen Supply On Mars

Science / Tech

The mankind-on-Mars conversation has been going on for some time, but only recently has it begun to be scientifically feasible. Technological accelerations are taking NASA, and other space programs such as SpaceX, closer and closer to making the conversation and fantasy a reality by developing methods for not only getting humans to the big red planet, but also sustaining life on it. NASA’s latest investment in their interplanetary vision is in TechShot Inc. a company based in Indiana. The company is working to create an independent oxygen supply, presumably for travel and in the future a base on the surface of Mars.

NASA has just funded a project that will attempt to produce oxygen on Mars, with the help of microscopic algae and bacteria… While establishing an oxygen-based atmosphere on Mars is still something out of science fiction, the NASA team charged with the task has a fascinating starting point.

This cutting edge research’s main objective is to identify the most robust bacteria that can exist in the atmosphere as Mars. They do this by using a chamber that accurately replicates the atmospheric conditions of Mars.

While this project is obviously a large investment in the future, NASA’s timeline is ambitious.

The project team hopes to send samples of microorganisms to Mars with the next rover mission in 2020. If their experiments work, the first humans arriving around 2030 would have one less piece of the puzzle to worry about.

The Mars program seems ambitious, and I think we may be amiss not to be slightly skeptical. However, a look back to the late 1960s and NASA’s Apollo moon landings  missions provides a perfect example of something equally as  ambitious that is now considered one of humanity’s crowning achievements. I also appreciate NASA’s nod towards exploring the biological world to find a sustainable and independent source of oxygen. A reminder, perhaps, that a marriage between mother-nature and modern technological advancement creates something even more magnificent than each respectively; a sentiment that might serve us well here on Earth as well.

We hope you enjoyed the article, share your thoughts on Mars and the prospects of interplanetary travel in the comments or on social media!

  Source: State Column

*Featured image courtesy Fast Company

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