Whole Leaf Tobacco

Growing Tobacco on Mars

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
14,994
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
Growing Tobacco on Mars



Is it possible to grow tobacco in Martian soil? Nobody has tried it. While the notion may, on its face, seem absurd, I doubt that many serious planners would rule out manufacturing some form of consumable alcohol in a future Martian colony. Surely other psychotropic plants (including coffee) would be considered a possibility--perhaps an essential--as well.

If you happen to be confined to the surface of Mars for the rest of your life, you might build yourself a private Smokers' Cave. But importing tobacco to Mars from Earth would be prohibitively expensive. If you happen to be a member of the Fair Trade Tobacco Forum, growing your own tobacco will come to mind.

So the question: will tobacco grow in Martian soil?

You can actually answer that question here on earth. All you need is a Martian soil simulant. That sounds pretty daunting a requirement, but the folks at the University of Central Florida have conveniently provided a recipe for a standardized Martian soil simulant that you can make your self.



Here is a link for downloading a pdf of the recently published paper on the subject. If you happen to have a dirty mind, you may find it interesting.

Cannon KM, Britt DT, Smith TM, et al.: Mars global simulant MGS-1: A Rocknest-based open standard for basaltic martian regolith simulants. Icarus 317 (2019) 470–478.

If you do give it a try (I'm way too old for Mars), be sure to start a Martian grow log. We'll even make it a sticky.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
14,994
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
Those guys have waaay to much time on their hands.
I have no doubt that we will plop some people on Mars within a decade or so. I'm not sure that will amount to much, before we have totally trashed Earth.

The colonization of North America, 20 to 30,000 years ago, likely languished on the Bering Land Bridge for 5000 years, before spilling farther east or southward onto the continent. They were just as smart as us, but had only stone tool technology. And the environmental conditions (even during the last Ice Age!) were considerably more favorable than what Mars has to offer. (Can you spell, "water" and "air" and "game"?)

European colonists to the Americas, back in the 1500s, needed either assistance from the natives, in order to not starve, or they relied on pillage to subsidize imports from their mother countries. It took about 100 years to have somewhat self-sustaining colonies.

Wes, you are the person I had in mind (a knowledgeable mineralogist), when I posted that tempting, dirt recipe. It could make you a legend in the history of tobacco.

Bob
 

OldDinosaurWesH

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
889
Points
63
Location
Dayton Wa.
From a mineralogical perspective, said mix of minerals would probably make a good matrix for growing plants. That list is reasonably representative of the kind of minerals and elements available here on earth. Certainly when and if we send people to Mars they would at some point have to be able to provide for themselves. It's good to know that there is some soil there that they could use to grow stuff.

I have always had a problem with the whole concept of going to Mars. Especially attempting to set up a colony there.

(Can you spell, "water" and "air" and "game"?)
You left out a few major components that any would-be colonists would face...Gravity, Ozone, and water being three that I could think of off of the top of my head. Mars only has 38% of the Earth's gravity, and effectively has no atmosphere, making cosmic radiation a real problem. And there is still no definitive proof that there is any significant amount of water on or near the surface. Not to mention the logistics and extreme expense in putting people there. Personally, I don't think there is that much money in the whole world, let alone here in the US. Barring of course, some major advancement in technology. Maybe some clever fellow will actually figure out how to create a sustainable fusion reactor. That would change the dynamic in a major way.

But, I digress. Suffice it to say that I am opposed to even attempting to put people on Mars.

But, be that as it may, I am of the opinion that the mix listed would make reasonably good soil. Some water, maybe a little fertilizer, and some sunshine and you could grow a fine tobacco crop. And think about how tall those tobacco plants would get in that low gravity. Oh, and I forgot a suite of bacteria to help break down the minerals into proper soil.

Wes H.

P.S. I am also of the opinion, that any would-be colonists on Mars would be signing up for a one-way trip. The gravitational difference is just too great. After spending even a short amount of time on Mars (a year or more) those people would be stuck there. Thus creating a new species, whose ancestors were human. Same goes for animals and plants. A wild experiment in evolution. I'm not sure we should be tinkering with nature in such a significant way.
 

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
14,994
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
We've had an astronaut in the ISS for a year. He sure felt crummy when he got back to Earth's surface, but I think he's the same species as when he started. Still looks pretty much like his twin brother--only a tiny bit younger than him now, from having existed at a higher velocity and higher altitude.

Another curiosity of growing tobacco on Mars is that the max solar energy (watts per square meter) on Mars is roughly 60% of that on Earth's surface--Earth's atmosphere gobbles up a bunch. So you could think about growing the finest shade leaf in the world solar system. (Actually the total watts per day is only about 1/3 that of Earth.) Earth's gravity makes it way more expensive (in fuel) to get to Mars, compared to returning from Mars. I could foresee a Space-X style rocket landing on the Martian surface with enough fuel to get back home. Maybe a commuter run every 6 months. There are surely enough completely crazy, rich people to sustain an out of this world vacation package.

Bob
 

OldDinosaurWesH

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
889
Points
63
Location
Dayton Wa.
Apparently you haven't been reading about Elon Musk's troubles. the SEC is suing him and asking a federal judge to throw him out of Tesla. Also, the SEC wants to ban him for life from being an officer of a publicly traded company. Elon Musk's other major company is Space-X. Interestingly, Space-X has already been booking trips into space for private individuals. I don't recall what the price was, but you can imagine it is pretty stiff.

I'm sticking with my previous statement.

I don't think there is that much money in the whole world, let alone here in the US.
And since we are being flippant, pyramids would be a lot cheaper, and and be equally useless. At least you would have a tourist site. You could store radioactive waste inside the Pyramids, and plant tobacco fields around them. Now there's an experiment!

Wes H.
 

skychaser

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
687
Points
43
Location
NE Washington
Just bring along some miracle grow. You can grow tobacco on a concrete slap with miracle grow. or so I have heard. And in that low gravity environment, Bob's Piloto will get 17' high. So bring a tall ladder too.
 

ChinaVoodoo

Moderator
Joined
Sep 1, 2014
Messages
4,068
Points
113
Location
Edmonton, AB, CA
As Apollo 11 landed somewhere much closer to the equator,
1200px-Moon_landing_sites.svg.png

The photo if it was real should look something more like this:

FTT Space~2.png

So, clearly fake.
 
Top