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The Tomogatchi was a little toy that featured a virtual
animal that you tried to keep alive by administering virtual
care to in the form of pushing a button to "feed" it, give it
water at the appropriate times etc.
The idea is to have a "virtual biosphere" probe on the Mars
surface with collection
devices to gather raw materials that
could be used to grow crops and keep animals and humans
alive. Measurements such as dangerous radiation,
temperature, light etc are monitored in an attempt to
an environment that could harbor life. Even though no life
is present, the goal would be to keep a small area in the
probe suitable for life for as long as possible.
Having actual plants or animals that you try to keep alive
would be a needless burden since you're just be sending
to their death at this point. It would be un-necessary
since you could evaluate a small area within the probe that
was keeps at the right temperature with the right amount
water and nutrients to keep various life forms alive.
For instance, you'd might have last years data looking like
this: "Twenty gallons of water gathered, mean temperature
65 degrees, 6 pounds of planting medium processed from
Mars regolith created. Possible crop yield: 2 pounds of
Rovers would go around gathering raw material and just
it at base camp to see if it could be done. Once the
had passed the test of rendering a sustainable environment
for long enough, seeds could be planted and perhaps
could be sent to be included in the little ecosystem.
The first Earth colonists on Mars would be plants, then
one celled animals and finally little furry critters, same as
did it here on Earth all those years ago.
From there, it's only a matter of scaling up till you've got a
biosphere big enough for humans to live in.
||Sort of yes. However, if any kind of life were
actually established, it would radically alter its
||For instance, if you gathered enough water and
atmosphere into your habitat to support, say,
bacteria or algae or giant redwood (probably
ambitious on day 1), they would alter that
atmosphere out of all recognition in almost no
time, and with more than one species those
alterations would be unpredictable.
||The real challenge would not be in creating a life-
sustaining environment, but in maintaining it
against the wild oscillations inherent in small,
||I think a better option would be to buy up a few
square miles of desert, put a dome on it, and
adjust the atmosphere and terrain to match that
of Mars. Then you can try out all kinds of stuff.
Of course, that needs a good understanding of the
Martian atmosphere and terrain, but we'll have
that understanding sooner than we can start doing
remote engineering on Mars itself.
||I like the idea but then I like Space engineers, Sub Nautica, and Minecraft.
||//I think a better option would be to buy up a few
square miles of desert, put a dome on it, and adjust
the atmosphere and terrain to match that of Mars//
||Why not both? There's some radiation issues Mars has
that Earth doesn't. Nothing you couldn't simulate
though I assume.
||Thanks Ian, correction made.
||I think the difference is showmanship. You get more
with a headline saying "First Earth Creature Born On
Mars! Meet Marvin the brine shrimp!" vs "Simulated
Mars Environment Records 24th Straight Year of
Livable Environment Under Marslike Conditions."
||But I do think you have to do both obviously.
||//You get more with a headline saying "First Earth
Creature Born On Mars! Meet Marvin the brine
shrimp!"// But I thought the whole point of the idea
was to test out the creation of a habitable
environment on Mars, _without_ sending Marvin
||Well, yea at first. Then when you've got it right you
do it for real. I'm just assuming that getting it right is
going to take a while so you want to go through a
couple of cycles of "virtual" Marvin before actually
trying to get your little Mars habitat inhabited with
||Well, without wishing to appear trolloid, I think that any
attempt to create a life-friendly environment will require
life to be present right from the beginning.
||For instance, anaerobic bacteria might be the only
practicable way to convert your regolith from highly
oxidising to less oxidising, to the point where some algae
might grow, which in turn would allow aerobic bugs to grow,
which in turn would add enough organic matter to let the
soil retain water... et so forth.
||Not trolling, legitimate points. The thing you'd be
testing is raw material gathering and your
thermal/radiation protected envelope. You can do
the math with everything else.
||Fair point. But I'm still not convinced that it would
be useful demonstration, beyond its very early
||In effect, you would simply prove that you can (for
example) gather enough water in one place to
possible the first stages of what would be mainly a
biological engineering process. And, if you're
all the hardware to gather water, why not also
little tab of bugs to use it?
||And, for what it's worth, we could dump terrestrial
bacteria into a few places on Mars and they'd cope.
In fact, the likelihood is that descendants of
terrestrial bacteria are already there. Since spore-forming
bacteria appeared on Earth, several billion tons (at least) of
Earth rocks have ended up on Mars, and vice versa. The idea
that absolutely no bacterial spores survived the journey is
||//why not also send a little tab of bugs to use it?//
||// itd make a watchable online slow television
||I'm a bit of a science nerd, and by a bit I mean
StarWars/StarTrek level so I'd log in to every episode.
I think there would be drama at every turn. This
wouldn't be easy. It's taking the second biggest
step of mankind's greatest adventure, the first being
the Moon landing.
||You know, I've just got to get off my ass and build a
Mars simulator in my garage and see what I can grow
|| Oooh. Good premise for an end of the world
epidemic movie. Scientists trying to create a super
hardy organism that can survive on Mars. It gets lose
and lots of scary special effects ensue.
||+ ( Do it on earth, a satellite, or on the moon for practice first. Mars is sort of a long way to have to send a repair truck.)
||Oh, absolutely. Then do it on Mars for effect.
||I think to get all the human resources marshalled for
such a monumental effort you're going to have to
engage the emotions of a lot of people. Just the
sentence "We've put life on Mars" strikes a chord with
me and I'm assuming a lot of other people too.
||If we can grow mice, why not a small chimp colony?
From there, we, mankind, the vanguard of life itself
our boldest step into the cold deadness of space
bringing with us light where there was once only
darkness, order from chaos, life where before there
was only cold, inanimate dead matter.
||And all of the things that comprise that which is
will propagate across the dull, dead cosmos from
there. Joy, laughter, art, sorrow, toil, disaster,
redemption, mistakes, victories, defeats, love and
above all, hope for the future. The spark that drives
all life itself.
||I'm Doctorremulac3, and I approved this message.
(Brought to you by the Doctorremulac3 for Emperor
of the Universe election campaign)
||Ok, I've got to go make breakfast for my daughter
before she goes to school. Back to reality.
||Baked decades ago. The Viking probes did exactly this, but
with a slightly more experimental procedure.
||Yes, but did you notice that, despite having spent
hundreds of millions on sending the Viking probes to
Mars, NASA never settled the question of whether
they actually found any VIkings?
||I'm considering lobbying for money to send a Clanger
probe to the moon.
||//The Viking probes did exactly this, but with a
slightly more experimental procedure.//
||If by "slightly more experimental procedure" you
dumped some dirt in
a petri dish and poured some chemicals on it, well,
yea. Hardly analogous to the idea posted.
||Might want to give it another read.