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What to plant on mars

Rhea

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Okay, I know you can’t plant on Mars. I’m using that as shorthand for this question:

If you were to bring plant life to an empty planet, assuming it has sufficient water, what would you bring? And what would you assiduously avoid?

And why?
 

Emily Lake

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I'd bring plants that produce edible materials - fruits, vegetables, nuts. I might bring plants that produce herbs and seasonings, especially ones with medicinal value or which contain trace nutrients.

I would outlaw most of the plants that cause lots of allergic reactions without providing any nutritional or medicinal value. That includes cedar and juniper, because those things suck.
 

ideologyhunter

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No kale. Let us establish a kale-free agriculture and resist all efforts at kalinization. Beets only with a 2/3 vote of the intergalactic council (sugar beets excepted.)
 

bilby

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If potatoes are good enough for Mark Watney, they're good enough for me.

But if terraforming is the goal, rather than short term survival, unicellular life is probably the best place to start.

IIRC, even Mark Watney recognised the need for specific bacteria when making soil, and inoculated his dirt-and-faeces blend growing medium with soil samples brought from Earth.
 

Rhea

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I was thinking about whether I’d allow grass. It is amazingly resilient, one of the most. And yet, it is also pretty invasive. What would it be like to have all trees and no shrubs?

ANd none of that damned knotweed.

I’d bring all kinds of edibles, yes. And I would also have a heavy emphasis on those trees. I like trees.
 

steve_bank

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Cucumbers for pickles.



What micro organisms are needed?


Are you assuming an O2 environment?

Look up the biosphere dome project from the 80s. A sealed dome with the idea of prucg O2 and food for a small group of humans. It failed. O2 dropped due to unaccounted bacteria in the soil or something like that.

Assuming there is nothing to begin with you do not want aggressive species that are hard to control. What is that imported plant in the South that took over areas? Kuzdu?

The obvious, staples. Potatoes, rice, beans, vegetables. You have to have tomatoes. Not worth he effort without tomatoes. With tomatoes you get tomato sauce for pasta, so you need wheat.

Spices and seasoning, garlic is a staple.

Trees.
 

Elixir

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Cyanobacteria.
Let evolution take it from there.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I'd bring plants that produce edible materials - fruits, vegetables, nuts. I might bring plants that produce herbs and seasonings, especially ones with medicinal value or which contain trace nutrients.

I would outlaw most of the plants that cause lots of allergic reactions without providing any nutritional or medicinal value. That includes cedar and juniper, because those things suck.
I'm going to assume we have a food synthesizer like on Star Trek so we can make and eat anything we want.

So if the climate is appropriate I want to bring all the native plants that exist in Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Redwood National Parks. Then I want to toss in some Bristlecone Pine for the highest elevations capable of supporting trees.
 

BH

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Could we actually transplant any life from earth to marshland it be able to survive? Could we have a craft with some type of bacteria land in one of those caves and release the bacteria deep underground and it survive?
 

Rhea

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Could we actually transplant any life from earth to marshland it be able to survive? Could we have a craft with some type of bacteria land in one of those caves and release the bacteria deep underground and it survive?


(Assuming “marshland” means Mars…)

Good question. Going over the ecosystem criteria for Mars specifically, they would need:
  • To come with soil bacteria
  • To be very cold-hardy
  • To need very little water

What else?

What fits this criteria on earth -
Lichens?
 

steve_bank

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martian_soil

Martian soil is toxic, due to relatively high concentrations of perchlorate compounds containing chlorine.[3] Elemental chlorine was first discovered during localised investigations by Mars rover Sojourner, and has been confirmed by Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. The Mars Odyssey orbiter has also detected perchlorates across the surface of the planet.

The NASA Phoenix lander first detected chlorine-based compounds such as calcium perchlorate. The levels detected in the Martian soil are around 0.5%, which is a level considered toxic to humans.[4] These compounds are also toxic to plants. A 2013 terrestrial study found that a similar level of concentration to that found on Mars (0.5 g per liter) caused:

a significant decline in the chlorophyll content in plant leaves,
reduction in the oxidizing power of plant roots
reduction in the size of the plant both above and below ground
an accumulation of concentrated perchlorates in the leaves

The report noted that one of the types of plant studied, Eichhornia crassipes, seemed resistant to the perchlorates and could be used to help remove the toxic salts from the environment, although the plants themselves would end up containing a high concentration of perchlorates as a result.[5] There is evidence that some bacterial lifeforms are able to overcome perchlorates and even live off them. However, the added effect of the high levels of UV reaching the surface of Mars breaks the molecular bonds, creating even more dangerous chemicals which in lab tests on Earth were shown to be more lethal to bacteria than the perchlorates alone.[6]
 
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