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Mars settlers will eat meals of protein extracted from the air!

Mars settlers will eat meals of protein extracted from the air!

Russia and China intend to establish a joint lunar base in the 1930s.

Like the United States, which wants its astronauts to land on the moon by 2025, and also wants to send a mission to Mars, but in order for the far space to be truly settled, food for the settlers must be found. The trip to Mars back and forth will take more than one year at least. However, transporting food to deep space is very expensive.

Since the 1960s, scientists have begun to think about ways to find food in space, and after the early successes of the Apollo program, NASA was looking for ways to produce food for long-term space missions.

In a report entitled “The Closed System of Life Support,” the scientists put forward the idea of ​​creating a bioreactor that uses special bacteria (hydrogenotrophs) that feed on carbon dioxide, that is, they can absorb the air exhaled by astronauts in breath, where microbes produce protein as a result of a chemical reaction.

Then the Americans abandoned plans to make long-term flights because of their high cost, but the current startups returned to the aforementioned idea in 2019, when the focus was on the upcoming space missions to Mars, NASA reconsidered this idea and announced the CO2 Conversion Challenge (CO2 Conversion Challenge). ). Many companies are now working on solving this problem.

Among them is the American company Air Protein, whose name is literally translated as “a protein from the air”, but the diet of bacteria, not only includes carbon dioxide, but there is also a mixture of special enzymes. After treating the mixture with microbes, a brown powder is obtained that does not resemble meat in appearance, smell and taste, but contains meat-like nutrients.

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Finnish startup Solar Food uses much the same mechanism. According to the researchers, the process is somewhat similar to yeast cultivation. But yeast turns sugar into alcohol, and here electricity and carbon dioxide instead of sugar. With the help of electricity, the water vapor molecules are broken down into oxygen and hydrogen, then the bacteria play their part, absorbing carbon dioxide and producing proteins. And the protein mass can be enriched with microelements or given any form.

The main problem is to reduce electricity costs and achieve better productivity. However, bacteria can handle that. For example, European biologists recently discovered a new type of microbe that can absorb methane molecules and release free electrons to the environment, which in effect means producing electricity.