Responses to Elevated CO2 on Food Production and Life Support Systems in a Mars Habitat



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51st International Conference on Environmental Systems


Plants are highly complex systems with specific responses to the over-supply or deprivation of particular resources and combinations thereof. Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (eCO2) in particular has been linked to responses in the amount of atmospheric CO2 sequestered, N2 absorbed from the soil, H2O vapor produced, edible biomass yield, nutrient composition of edible biomass, and more. In closed-loop ecosystems such as a Mars habitat, the cascading and compounding impacts of these responses on the other biological and mechanical systems can be significant. This study leverages decades of experimental data and modelling of plant responses to eCO2 (motivated primarily by climate change research) to explore its impact on food production and life support systems in a Mars habitat. A species-specific model of responses to ambient CO2 on plant CO2 absorption, transpiration and biomass production is integrated into SIMOC [ICES 2019, 2021], an agent-based model for high-fidelity ECLSS and bioregenerative simulations. Several scenarios are defined with varying combinations of humans, ECLSS components, and different amounts and combinations of crop species. A target CO2 level is defined for each simulation and the relevant ECLSS components programmed to add or remove CO2 as necessary to maintain this level. For each scenario, simulations are conducted with the ABM at different target CO2 levels and system-level impacts are observed. Maintaining elevated levels of CO2 is shown to not only increase crop yields, but also reduce the load on ECLSS and power production systems. Moreover, combined with the varying responses by different plant species to eCO2, our results offer new insights into the relative fitness of different crops for cultivation in a Mars habitat.


Grant Hawkins, Over the Sun, LLC, VN
Ezio Melotti, Over the Sun, LLC, IT
Kai Staats, Over the Sun, LLC, US
ICES300: ECLSS Modeling and Test Correlations
The 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US, on 10 July 2022 through 14 July 2022.


SIMOC, agent-based model, computer simulation, mars habitat, blss, eclss, bioregenerative life support, bioregneration, co2 sequestration, isru, parameter space