The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure

Training Jr. Astronauts, Scientists & Engineers

The Story of the Martian Greenhouse

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A fire destroyed the greenhouse at the Mars Desert Research Station. Please help us rebuild!

Kids Talk Radio is going do what we can to help.

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The Story of Our Martian Greenhouse

In the late 1990s, Dr. Robert Zubrin and others organized a group of Earth-bound space enthusiasts with dreams of exploring the Red Planet and some engineering gusto to form the Mars Society, currently the world’s largest space advocacy group dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of Mars.

Several years later, the Mars Society established the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), which began operating as a Mars analog simulation outpost in the San Rafael Swell of south-central Utah. For over a decade, MDRS has hosted nearly 1,000 engineers, scientists, doctors, educators and university students from all over the globe to “practice for Mars.” Each year, crews of six live, work, and train at the facility for two-week field rotations running from October through May.

Food growth and plant science studies performed on site in the MDRS greenhouse (more commonly referred to as the GreenHab) meet a primary goal of the Mars simulation program – helping to determine the necessary food resources that future Mars explorers will require during a mission and long-term stay on the planet.

Two years ago, we revitalized this effort by overhauling the old GreenHab. The GreenHab team and dedicated GreenHab officers, made up of crew members from around the world, breathed new life into the humble Martian garden by upgrading the facility. A hydroponic vegetable system was installed to feed the crew fresh lettuce, space was cleared for carrot, pea and herb planters, and training resumed for numerous crew studies on how best to maintain life in extreme environments.

Firefighting on Mars
Well into the updated GreenHab’s second year, disaster struck the facility and the GreenHab caught fire. Quick action by the crew saved the structure from burning down completely and also spreading to the main MDRS habitat. Unfortunately, the GreenHab was severely damaged to such an extent that MDRS staff deemed it unfit for further use.

Fire at a leading international space simulation outpost makes the news, and a number of media outlets covered the incident, including Space.com, Slate, the Daily Mail (UK),and TechTimes. Although the fire dealt a serious blow to the MDRS program, staff and volunteers reacted quickly, as would future Mars pioneers. We built a temporary grow tent with discrete, low-power indoor gardens inspired by alternative gardening websites so that research could continue.

Our Improved GreenHab
Any future human settlement on the Red Planet would rebuild and grow from such a game-changing event, and the Mars Society is no exception. We aim to train and inspire future Mars pioneers to successfully overcome other-worldly emergencies.

So we’re rebuilding the GreenHab at MDRS. An all-new geodesic dome structure has been designed to house an improved assortment of food gardens and science experiments. This new greenhouse will be more efficient, easier to use, healthier for the plants and more suitable than ever before. Most importantly, it will be more technologically advanced, helping us better prepare for the coming space age and provide the needed research for humanity’s inevitable exploration and settlement of the planet Mars.

Mars Society staff and volunteers have already built a small sample geodesic test unit. We just finished a field trip to lay the building foundation, and we will return to MDRS in September to build the complete geodesic GreenHab structure in time for the upcoming 2015-16 field season, which begins October 24th. A generous donation immediately following the fire helped us reach this point. It covered the cost of the temporary grow tent, as well as materials to build the new GreenHab dome structure.

We Need Your Support
While the Mars Society has been able to raise part of the necessary funds to rebuild the GreenHab, a key component of the MDRS program, we still lack money to equip the new structure with the necessary tools to perform important crew research and experiments.

The Mars Society and MDRS staff are seeking YOUR HELP to restock and resupply the GreenHab. MDRS staff intend to build planters to study dirt and regolith, install a hydroponics system that can eventually be converted into aquaponics, and purchase LED lighting, fans, environmental controls, Rasberry Pis, sensors, and a whole list of other needed supplies and equipment.

The more you contribute, the better we can make the MDRS GreenHab and ensure its full conversion into a state-of-the-art Mars-focused research facility. Your involvement in this important campaign means that you are directly helping scientists and engineers to prepare for the human exploration and eventual settlement of the Red Planet.

Reaching the amount we are asking for – $10,000 – would be amazing. It alone would ensure a successful upcoming season. However, should Mars and space enthusiasts from around the world decide to support our MDRS GreenHab research program beyond the required amount, we have several stretch goals to make our GreenHab the solar system class habitat it deserves to be.

If $25,000 is raised, the Mars Society can outfit the planned greenhouse dome with completely automated environmental controls to handle the extreme temperature, humidity, light, water and carbon dioxide swings experienced in the Mars-like desert terrain of Utah.

If $50,000 is raised, the Mars Society can create two modular domes and expand the operational capacity of the planned domes to better simulate a real six-person Mars mission.

If $100,000 (or more) is raised, the Mars Society can construct one of its initial domes and use the remaining funds to contract with start-up aerospace designers to build a solar-powered inflatable habitat. This dream hi-tech structure would immediately become the world’s leading facility for aerospace agriculture testing, all thanks to your help.
The Mars Society is a  registered as 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution. Contributions to our campaign in the United States will be processed by FirstGiving and will be tax deductible.
Feel free to contact us for more information regarding perks which require Mars Society approval,

Dreaming of a Martian Colony
While there are many science-related crowdfunded projects for consideration online, the Mars Society’s “Veggies on ‘Mars’ – Help Rebuild the MDRS GreenHab” campaign is a unique project that will directly benefit planning for human exploration of the Red Planet.

In addition, getting involved with our campaign by making a contribution or publicizing this effort will help the Mars Society spread the adventure and excitement of space exploration to the world-wide public.

We need you to join our mission to rebuild the GreenHab. Please help us so the Mars Society can give back to the greater world community. Together we can make a wonderful MDRS GreenHab facility where we share how to “live off the land” of humanity’s eventual second home, a second Earth – the planet Mars.

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Author: Kids Talk Radio

Bob Barboza is an educator, STEM journalist, software designer and founder of The Occupy Mars Learning Adventures and the Barboza Design and Space Centers. He leads a team of scientists, engineers and STEAM++ educators. They are training students to become Jr. astronauts, scientists and engineers. His team provides internships and workshops in STEAM++ and the integration of Common Core State Standards and Next Generations Science Standards. Contact information: Bob.Barboza@Gmail.com

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