Fresh Veggies, Fresh Air For Mars

China's space program is getting ready for Mars with a ecological life support system, a 300 cubic meter cabin that will contain plants and algae to recycle air, produce oxygen and edible vegetables for meals.

Researchers in Beijing have already conducted a preliminary successful test of the technology.

The system, which relies on plants and algae, is "expected to be used in extra-terrestrial bases on the Moon or Mars," the report said.

Participants in the experiment could "harvest fresh vegetables for meals", Xinhua quoted Deng Yibing, a researcher at Beijing's Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Centre, as saying.

"Chinese astronauts may get fresh vegetables and oxygen supplies by gardening in extra-terrestrial bases in the future," the report said, adding that the experiment was the first of its kind in China.

SF fans who got their start in the 1940's fondly recall the Martian Sawgrass from George O. Smith's excellent 1942 novella QRM-Interplanetary:

"What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?" shouted Channing. "... We breathe oxygen, exhale CO2. Plants inhale CO2 and exhale oxygen. An air plant means just that. It is a specialized type of Martian sawgrass that uses chlorophyll... We've spent years getting that plant so it will grow just right. It got so good that the CO2 detectors weren't even needed..."

From Cosmos via our friends from Frolix_8.

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