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Food production module in Mars

We will build a sustainable agrological food module featuring an underground greenhouse design, which will protect the crops from adverse atmospheric conditions. Aeroponic production will be used with monitoring and control of meteorological variables.


Food production module in Mars

Our mission is to help humanity achieve successful food growing on Mars. For this, we will build a sustainable food module featuring an underground greenhouse design, which will protect the crops from adverse atmosphere. The module will be composed of an outer layer on basalt and sandstone bricks, and an internal polyethylene coating. The internal structure will support the layers and pots. Aeroponic production will be used with monitoring and control of meteorological variables.

It is a project that integrates various aspects for the production of food on Mars. The first stage was to define the objective of the proposal among the work team. Then each member of the team worked in a specific area. Among those that stand out: resource requirements to produce potato on Mars with aeroponia, module structure design, energy requirements for the maintenance and feeding of the module, sensor design for monitoring, control of environmental variables of the module and communications between structures.

Resource requirements to produce potato on Mars with aeroponia.

Life cycle: 200 days. Long cycle because when harvesting continuously the plant tries to send reserves to the tubers.

Carbon dioxide: Under normal conditions 0.03%. It could have a good ratio between 30 to 40%.

Solar radiation and photoperiod: 12 hs with 400 umol m-2 s-1. They use cold white fluorescent (CWF) models with a range of 400-700 nm photosynthetic photon flux (PPF).


Phenological stage

Sowing to Emergency

Air Temperature (ºC)


Leaf production

12 a 14

stems elongation



16 a 20


Sub-surface temperature (ºC)

21 a 24

Leaf production

21 a 24

Daytime Tubing

16 a 22

Night Tuberization

10 a 16

Relative Humidity: 70%

Water and nutrition:

A standard nutritive solution with electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.0dS m-1 with 13.0 of NO3-; 1.5 of H2 PO4 -; 1.5 of SO4- -; 4.0 of Ca++; 6.5 of K+ y 1.5 mmol L-1 of Mg++ , and 0.03 of Mo; 0.26 of B; 0.06 of Cu, 0.50 of Mn, 0.22 of Zn and 4.0 mg L-1 of Fe.

Calculation of module surface depending on the production.

Density= 20 plants m-2

Average weight of tubers= 15 g tuber-1

Average number of tubers per plant= 56 tuber plant-1

Cycle= 200 days

Yield=(20 plants m-2*15 g tuber-1*56 tuber plant-1*365 days year-1)/200 days=30,660 g m-2 year-1

The calculation of the net area of production for the module took into account that six people are fed and under the assumption that a person only feeds on potatoes and consumes 1kg per day for a year.

Net Area Production=(365 kg person-1 year-1*6 persons)/30.660 kg m-2 = 71.429 m2 year-1

Design and calculation of the structure of the module

  1. Structure

Given the need to colonize Mars, the human being was forced to resort to
agriculture to be able to be autonomous on the red planet. For this, it was planned
the creation of a special module to achieve this objective.

At the beginning we need to know with what material we are going to do the module. To avoid the least possible contamination, we propose the use of materials from the red planet.

Mars is a planet composed basically of rocks, among them igneous basalt, sedimentary sandstone, mudstone, impactites and evaporites. Of all they, the most interesting are sandstone and basalt. The first for being a element inert and the second one being a resistant and very hard material.

For the compaction of the elements, a possible way to do it is through the powder metallurgy technique. It is a process that compacts fine powders to give them a certain shape and they are heated in a controlled atmosphere to obtain a piece. This process is suitable for the manufacture of large series of small precision parts, for rare materials or mixtures and controlling the degree of porosity or permeability. So we decided to make bricks using this method.

In addition to basalt and sandstone, we decided to place a layer of polyethylene for greater protection against radiation. Internally the module will be a reticulated aluminum structure (from Earth). A 3D printer will be available for the elaboration of various types of pieces that with the powder metallurgy would not be necessary to do it (internal parts of the module).

The internal atmospheric pressure is generated by a compressor connected to an oxygen storage tank. In addition to having a condenser to reuse water steam.

2. Calculation procedure approximate

The calculation procedure was reduced by using the ABAQUS finite element software to know the voltage state of the module. As we considered previous, being in the presence of fragile materials, we will only have the elastic region before reaching the fracture.

Due to the fact that the modulus of elasticity of basalt and sandstone was available separately, a modulus of elasticity was used within the range of both materials. For the Poisson module, both materials have the same value. The value of both modules is

E = 8.16x105(kg cm-2) = 8x1010 (Pa)

ν = 0.25

The data obtained through the software, as well as the 3D representation of the module, can be found at the following link:

Through the requirements of the crop the capsule is dimensioned in the following way:

Dimensions of the capsule:

Diameter: 5m

Long: 25m

Sensors, measurements and communication:

We looked for specific sensors that are compatible with Arduino to make a controlled system which helps us to have an easy programming and implementation.
These sensors are: temperature, humidity, pressure and gases such as CO2, O2.
Each one connected to an Arduino, we have two sets like the ones mentioned above, one for the underground part of the plantations (roots) and another for the superficial part (trunk and leafs)

Both will be connected to a screen in which the values can be displayed in real time.
They will be connected to a LoRaWAN transmitter plate that exchanges information between different greenhouses located in the Martian mountain.

We take care of the lighting required by the crops and install strips of LEDs, a pump that drives the spraying and another pump that collects the excess water from that stage to reuse it.
When oxygen gas is needed for human health we will collect and store in a compressor the oxygen emitted by the plants for a human use, and finally we add a couple of heaters to maintain the suitable temperature in the habitat, because it is embedded in the mountain. Temperature variations will not be so abrupt.
We perform the calculation of approximate electrical power required and decided that the most appropriate way to power the entire system would be to use solar panels, because having a very weak atmosphere the electromagnetic radiation will be more intense and will produce a higher electric current rate than in our planet.

Electrical Characteristics:

Source of information



  • Boschiazzo, Valentino - Electronic Engineer Student - Contact: Linkedin
  • Clemente, Juan Pablo - Agronomic Engineer - Contact:
  • Fansini, Valentín Emiliano - Aeronautical Engineer Student - Contact: Linkedin
  • Juri Occhetti, María Candela - Aeronautical Engineer Student - Contact: Linkedin
  • Lamberti, Germán Andrés - Computer Engineer Student - Contact: Linkedin
  • Mercol, Ezequías - Graphic designer - Contact: Linkedin


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