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Technical Paper

Plant Growth and Ecosystem Development on a Terraformed Mars: With the Use of the International Space Station to Investigate Plant Growth in Martian Gravity

A fundamental question for Astrobiology is the question of the ability of life to expand beyond its planet of origin. Introducing life on Mars is the likely near-term step in addressing this question. Making Mars more suitable for life (terraforming) involves altering the martian environment so that microorganisms and plants from Earth could survive there. We define two principal goals: 1) determine the minimal change in pressure, gas composition, and temperature on Mars that would allow for growth of plants from arctic and alpine biomes. 2) Determine the characteristics of plant growth at 0.38 g. This paper reviews martian environmental factors in the context of plant survival, and discusses the use of Space Station as a hypogravity testbed.