11.04.2012

Self-Sufficiency in Space


By on 2:49 PM

It's pretty much Space Travel 101: getting anything into space is incredibly expensive. With it costing more than $4,000 to get each pound of equipment just into orbit – and even more to get that same weight out of orbit – it makes sense to look for any possible way of decreasing weight. Unfortunately, any long-term space flights – think longer than 2 years – are going to require a huge amount of supplies, and while it might not be too difficult to resupply something like a space-station, resupplying a crew zipping to Europa or even just staying on Mars is going to require some serious planning.

But what if they don't need additional resources? What if they're fully self-sufficient?

This is by no means an original idea. Scientists have been throwing around the idea since we've been in space and sci-fi writers have been playing with it even longer. Stephen Baxter, H. G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke are just a few of the dozens of writers that have toyed with the idea. Even the children television series Power Rangers has displayed self-sufficient spaceships.

And the idea doesn't really seem all that complicated. Basically, the goal would be to recreate some sort of Earth-style biome, preferably a comfortable one, complete with every important organism necessary for the continued existence of every other important organism, as well as having any and all necessary chemicals somehow available in the environment.

Unfortunately, this is far easier said than done. The sheer number of organisms it takes and mechanisms required for long term human survival is staggering. Add in to that the often difficult-to-predict effects of various human built objects and the problem becomes even more complex.

This hasn't stopped scientists from attempting it, though. Biosphere 2, the largest closed system ever built, was used in a set of experiments to determine if it was possible to replicate an environment conducive to life while maintaining self-sufficiency. 

The following video is a wonderful TED Talk about the difficulties faced by the participants in the Biosphere 2 experiments and the overall outcome. Definitely worth a quick watch.




If you can't watch the video, one of the participants who spent two years in Biosphere 2 basically explains that even though they had attempted to cover absolutely any problem without having to pump in additional chemicals, oxygen within the structure continued to decrease, leading to several health problems.

But what do you think? Is self sufficiency in space really so important? Is Biosphere 2 the best way to attempt to recreate a biome? Tell us in the comments!

Rusty is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and gets up to all kinds of shenanigans planning for any and all kinds of apocalypse when he's not busy reading, writing, or yo-yoing. Keep up with him and Rachel on Facebook and Twitter to get cool, space related news or click here to read more of his thoughts on the terror of alien invasion novels.

About Syed Faizan Ali

Faizan is a 17 year old young guy who is blessed with the art of Blogging,He love to Blog day in and day out,He is a Website Designer and a Certified Graphics Designer.

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