Mars Base Zero – A Terrestrial Analog 2005-01-2756
This paper presents background information and describes operating experience with Mars Base Zero, a terrestrial analog of a Mars base situated in Fairbanks, Alaska. Mars Base Zero is the current stage in a progression from a vegetable garden to a fully closed system (Nauvik) that the International Space Exploration and Colonization Company (ISECCo) has undertaken.
Mars Base Zero is an 80 m2 greenhouse, with 18m2 of living space attached. The primary goal is to determine the necessary size for Nauvik in order to support one to four people using current ISECCo techniques for growing food crops. In the spring of 2004 Mars Base Zero was planted, and in the fall of 2004, one subject, Ray Collins, was closed in the system for 39 days. The data from this closure indicates that, using ISECCo cropping techniques, Nauvik will need 150 m2 of crop area to support one person.
While problems were encountered, the minimum goal of 30 days closure was exceeded. The diet was vegetarian, mostly potatoes. Plant productivity, diet, water consumption, waste production and crew time were tracked. Urine and feces were sterilized and recycled, though the system was largely open to water as well as air. Pests were a minor problem, eating about 20% of the wheat and 5% of the beets (mice), and damaging lettuce, sunflowers and spinach (aphids). Other issues included minor health problems; diet palatability & quality; odors from waste sterilization; and equipment problems. Thus, while years of work remain to be done to improve closure and operating procedures, the experiment was a success.