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By Unobscured Vision
Neowin ThinkTank -- "Gardening on Mars":
Objectives: We have eight years to design a successful Botanical Mission that will allow us to grow any variety of plant life (including edibles) that we choose on Mars. We need to define parameters, determine what we have at our disposal (both on Earth and on Mars), what technologies are available to us that will assist in that endeavor, and what we ultimately want to accomplish with the Botanical Mission once it is implemented on Mars.
We will likely want (and need) to conduct extensive research on the flora in all stages of growth to determine if it is safe to consume, and to determine what changes occur due to the Martian soil and other environmental factors. The Botanical Mission is critical for future long-term Settlements on Mars, and the data gathered during this and subsequent Missions is vital.
Personnel Required: (3) It will require a Botanist (reference), a Biologist specializing in Agricultural Science (reference), and an Environmental Geologist (reference), all preferably skilled in Research and Field Experimentation as well as Practical Application of these talents. These individuals will actually grow many varieties of plants in a controlled environment, and the work will be labor-intensive at times. These individuals should be physically fit, motivated, enthusiastic, professional, and able to do the work required. The parameters and requirements concerning these Personnel will become better defined as the Mission Parameters evolve.
Equipment Required: Obviously, this Mission will require payload weight and specialized equipment. Fortunately, the technologies and gear needed for this endeavour are mostly lightweight and small. Recycling and ISRU Technologies have had a true revolution in the last five years, and these will greatly assist with the Botanical Mission -- in fact, they will make this Mission possible at substantially lower payload weights and with far less financial costs than they would have even five or ten years ago. Massive improvements in 3D Printing technologies have lowered these weight commitments even further.
What will be required, from a payload standpoint, should be quite low relative to the other Missions. Remember that overall Payload Weight, while quite large, is still a factor and we need to save weight where/however we can.
Also remember that the Overall Mission Plan is we're building a large Geodesic Dome with the Main Mission Team. That construction will occur first. Our Garden will likely be isolated from the Dome to preserve the Air Purification and Conversion System until it is proven to not be an impediment to that system -- unless we've been forced to have our Garden in a smaller, separate Dome.
Other Requirements/Concerns/Objectives: This is what we need to figure out also.
Neowin ThinkTank #2 -- Design, Plan, and Launch a "Two Decades" Science Set / Mission Programme to the four Gas Giants by 2020 or earlierBy Unobscured Vision
Hello, science buffs, independent researchers and armchair nerds! (And yes, that's a good thing!)
I welcome all of you to the second Neowin ThinkTank.
In this ThinkTank, we'll explore how a motivated Company, Partnership of Companies, or even a Governmental Space Entity like ESA, NASA, Roscosmos and others could (and probably should) pursue an extended, committed, "Two Decades" Probe + Multiple Landers* mission set to the Solar Systems' "Gas Giants" -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
(*Number of Landers per Probe depends on the destination, obviously)
In this ThinkTank, we should strive to explore every aspect of what a committed, motivated effort like this will require to succeed. We should also be mindful of a budget, since financial concerns are of (usually) vital importance before a project of any scale is given the green-light. We also should consider whether to use "flight-proven" designs such as Cassini and simply update them with the latest hardware & software (then modify that design to accommodate the additional Landers), or if we should "start from the ground up" with an all-new design.
We will also actually plan the Mission(s) themselves. That's a key part of any Probe mission -- where are we going? The science packages, even the very hardware and software itself, depends on that answer. Since each Probe will be going to one destination only, we can dedicate each Probe to its' destination as well as which Landers or Atmospheric Entry Probes we equip it with. Come on, you know you want to send AEP's down into Saturn, Uranus and Neptune! Now's the chance to actually plan those kinds of Missions!
Then we will actually decide which launch hardware should be used for which platform, and when it can be launched. We have the means to simulate the entire flight(s). And yes, it'll be Kerbal Space Program. (Just kidding....? )
For anyone not familiar with the Neowin ThinkTank, it's a very special study that the entire Community is invited to contribute to. Think of it as an exercise, an "Intellectual Interest Topic", where those members with the know-how, the fortitude, the moxy and the savvy can pool their collective talents into one "Grand Objective". Our last ThinkTank, "Establish Mars Colony One (and Two, and Three, and ...)" can be found here: http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1259650-neowin-think-tank-mars-colony-one-and-two-and-three-and/