I often get asked the question why we are investing in agriculture for space and Mars applications and not for Earth. Otherwise, I am approached with, whether I really believe that one day we will live on Mars. The short answer to the first question is that we are investing in research for both Earth and Mars applications, with emphasis towards the latter. There have been very few attempts by businesses worldwide in bringing agricultural solutions to the space sector, with some universities in the United States collaborating with NASA and now more influence from the European Space Agency into growing plants in space. And I believe that there is a lot of potential in the science we can conduct and discoveries we can accomplish by bringing together more universities and individuals who share the interest in terraforming other planets.
Do I believe that we will one day move to Mars? Yes, but perhaps not for the reason you may think. Settlement in Mars represents a multinational scientific accomplishment, much like the International Space Station, rather than the planet that will provide support for future human settlements. Perhaps most of us view these settlements as an escape from a deteriorating planet; but ask yourself the question of how many resources we must mine in Mars for us to solely rely on that planet. The reality is that we are very far from being self-sustainable, most of us probably don’t live like that on Earth. We depend on physical space for manufacturing, for growing crops and pretty much for living healthy lifestyles. If one day we truly want to live on planets whose surfaces are inhabitable unless we employ specially manufactured living modules, we need to be able to live in confined environments and thus maximise the use of physical space.
Our immediate resources—those that we require to live—will need to be close to ‘home’. No longer would we need vehicles to travel to shops or markets to get supplies; if anything, it could take months to re-supply a community. The only solution would be to have the capacity to survive in a confined physical space. And we would do that by learning to be self-sustainable, starting by using our ability to grow our own food supply. It’s really like going back thousands of years to when early humans emerged. And we must build the communities on Mars like we built communities on Earth, through reliance on agriculture and knowledge on how to grow crops.
So, where does that put us now? When I envisioned the Seanasol initiative back in 2017, I focused on solely research that would bring plants to space. That has been the central focus of the Company since its inauguration, but it doesn’t benefit real-world problems we come across now. We wanted to expand on those who will benefit from our research and focus our research mainly of applications for Earth; we consider these small, but sturdy steppingstones on the long path to terraforming Mars. We build these fundamentals which can be designed, tested and used on Earth before we apply that technology to other applications. I want to create a framework where individuals from different scientific disciplines, but who share our core values, come together and share ideas for ways of improving our planet and envision the best ways of moving forward, while minimising our impact on the environment. I do believe one day we will move to Mars, but that doesn’t mean that Earth will be forgotten. We might not be able to stop Earth from changing much over time, but we surely can slow down that rate at which is does, so that it will always be the planet that can sustain life. We mustn’t use the excuse of having the knowledge and technology to build communities on other planets to diminish the importance of Earth and how it came to be the host of life.
Continue Reading: The Future of Space Science & Its Impact