Are Human Settlements On Asteroids Possible?

Michael Mautner, Ph.D., is a research professor of chemistry in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences. He studies how life might expand beyond Earth, using meteorite soils to find how microbes and even plants might grow on asteroids to support human colonists.


( Asparagus grown in asteroid/meteorite soil)

How are you researching [expanding life in space]?
I study astroecology, the relation between life and its potential resources in space. As to human settlement of the solar system, we shall need [food] in space to live and grow there. Carbonaceous asteroids can provide accessible in situ resources, as they contain complex organic carbon, mineral plant nutrients and extractable water. <
I have been studying samples of these asteroids in meteorites to evaluate their soil fertilities and the responses of microorganisms and plant tissue cultures. A variety of soil bacteria, algae, and asparagus and potato tissue cultures grew well in these asteroid/meteorite soils and also in Martian meteorite soils.

Are human settlements on asteroids or other planets feasible? How far off do you see that happening?
I hope for a gradual expansion in space, that has already started. First, we need programs that serve human needs on Earth: communication and weather satellites, solar power collected by satellites and beamed to Earth, possibly a space sun shield against global warming, detection and diversion of threatening asteroids. These programs can start with lunar bases that provide the structural materials. We can then progress to pioneering outposts, followed by large in-space cities and on colonies on asteroids.

In his 1951 novella Asteroid of Fear by Golden Age sf master Raymond Z. Gallun details an asteroid homesteaders' school on Vesta where you can learn to feed your family with an asteroid garden:

Now he started unrolling great bolts of a transparent, wire-strengthened plastic. Patching with an adhesive where explosion-rents had to be repaired, he cut hundred-yard strips, and, with Rose's help, laid them edge to edge and fastened them together to make a continuous sheet. Next, all around its perimeter, he dug a shallow trench. The edges of the plastic were then attached to massive metal rails, which he buried in the trench.

"Sealed to the ground along all the sides, Honey," he growled to Rose. "Next we fit in the airlock cabinet, at one corner. Then we've got to see if we can get up enough air to inflate the whole business. That's the tough part—the way things are...."

After the massive airlock was in place, they attached their electrolysis apparatus to the small atomic battery, which had been used to run the well-driller. The well was in the area covered by the sheet of plastic, which was now propped up here and there with long pieces of board from the great box. Over their heads, the tough, clear material sagged like a tent-roof which has not yet been run up all the way on its poles.
(Read more about Gallun's asteroid garden)

Via VCU.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/14/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Food ")

Beijing HaiDiLao Robotic Hotpot Restaurant Now Flavored By Artificial Intelligence
'Kantos Kan led me to one of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus.' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912.

Plants of the Future - What Should They Be Like
'He almost choked in his astonishment. Mashed potatoes and brown gravy!' - Robert Heinlein, 1941.

Uber Eats Pairs Cars With Drones
Fresh grub? Let's hope they aren't delivering grubs.

Alcarelle Synthetic Alcohol Like Star Trek Synthehol
Bottoms up!

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Extremophile Microbe Loves Space Rocks
'... designed for rooting in the metal make-up of the asteroids for vital elements.'

Magic Mushroom Nose Spray From Silo Wellness
'I don't need help... that's not my diagnosis!'

CAV-X Supercavitating Ammo Deadly Underwater
'...in the midst of this fluid, which is very dense compared with the atmosphere, shots could not go far.'

Space Domes Over-rated? Science Fiction Authors Have Answers
'This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided...'

Injectable Magnetic Fluid Slows Bleeding, Aids Magneto
'There's something different about you.'

Autonomous Wheelchairs Improve Airport Mobility
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

HVSD, Kitty Hawk's Electric Plane
Very quiet commuter plane offers VTOL service.

Frictionless Toilet Could Save 140 Billion Liters Of Water
'The bowl was a frictionless surface...'

Viisights AI Hones Video Surveillance
'The math boys worked it out...'

Cybertruck The Solar-Powered Steel Tortoise
'It drew its power from... sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

Road Noise Charges Electric Cars With Peugeot Piezoelectric Billboard
''... major cities of Earth have free electrical power conveniently processed from their own noise.'

Unsinkable Metal Latest Gates Obsession
'A metal... light as cork.'

M-Blocks 2.0 Self-Assembling Robots
'Faster the cubes moved...'

NASA 'Broomstick' Recalls SciFi Ideas
'The appearance was enough like a giant witch's broom to justify the nickname.'

Orbital Display's Low Earth Orbit Advertisements
'A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'

Neuromorphic Computing Hardare
'He had constructed an organ, a brain, of metal, entirely inorganic and lifeless...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.