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Githyanki
2012-Nov-16, 01:54 AM
So, I keep seeing in sci-fi these agricultural-domes on other worlds like Mars and the Moon. Craters cap off with glass to allow sun-light into to grow crops for human consumption. Now, how do they pollinate? They can either have complex-machines do it or, they can import bees from Earth. Now, just to import in a few bees on your deep-space craft would be risky as the bees may not be able to cope with zero-gee; however, if they do survive they might have problems on Mars and the Moon. Both have low-gravity and could alter the bee's successive generations. On Mars, I see them getting larger and on the Moon, they might be so large and do away with wings in favor of strong jumping legs.

Another problem is bees on centrifugal stations. Sure, there's gravity of sorts, but once they take off, they are no longer effected by the spin. So, in essence, they are in cero-gee and have to use their wings to maneuver.

whimsyfree
2012-Nov-16, 02:40 AM
Another problem is bees on centrifugal stations. Sure, there's gravity of sorts, but once they take off, they are no longer effected by the spin. So, in essence, they are in cero-gee

That's wrong. Otherwise you have to believe that a human in such a station could jump in the air and hover. You may have failed to take account of the fact the air rotates along with the station.

Githyanki
2012-Nov-16, 02:57 AM
That's wrong. Otherwise you have to believe that a human in such a station could jump in the air and hover. You may have failed to take account of the fact the air rotates along with the station.

Yes, I know the air is also moving and would act like a wind-tunnel, of sorts. If you get high enough, would not a bunch of bees be almost stuck in the center?

Noclevername
2012-Nov-16, 09:56 AM
Yes, I know the air is also moving and would act like a wind-tunnel, of sorts. If you get high enough, would not a bunch of bees be almost stuck in the center?

No, the bees would be moving at the same rotational rate as the part of the station they're in. They'd be almost weightless near the axis, but they could still easily fly to any part of the station. They'd have to learn to compensate for the coriolis effect, but once they do, they should have no trouble flying around the station.

As for them growing large and/or losing wings, it would take a tremendous number of generations for that to happen.

Colin Robinson
2012-Nov-16, 10:21 AM
That's wrong. Otherwise you have to believe that a human in such a station could jump in the air and hover. You may have failed to take account of the fact the air rotates along with the station.

I'd agree that a human in a rotating space station could not jump in the air and hover... Even if there was no air in station, and the human was wearing a pressure suit, hovering wouldn't work.

Why it wouldn't work, becomes more apparent if you picture a mark on the "ground" (the inside wall of the space station) at the point where the astronaut was standing before he or she jumped.

From the point of view of an observer outside the space station (and not rotating with it), the astronaut inside, trying to hover, will actually (due to inertia) keep moving in a straight line at right angles to the radius of the station. The outside observer will see the mark on the wall moving in a curve, on a collision course with the straight line trajectory of the astronaut, until the astronaut collides with the mark.

From the point of view of the astronaut in the space station, the experience would be very like jumping from the surface of the Earth and coming down again to the very bit of ground you jumped up from.

In the case of the bee, air in the station would actually help it to "hover" in the sense of staying a constant distance from the wall. With air around it, it could use its wings in the same way a bee would do if it were hovering over the ground here on Earth...

Solfe
2012-Nov-16, 12:15 PM
So, I keep seeing in sci-fi these agricultural-domes on other worlds like Mars and the Moon. Craters cap off with glass to allow sun-light into to grow crops for human consumption. Now, how do they pollinate? They can either have complex-machines do it or, they can import bees from Earth. Now, just to import in a few bees on your deep-space craft would be risky as the bees may not be able to cope with zero-gee; however, if they do survive they might have problems on Mars and the Moon. Both have low-gravity and could alter the bee's successive generations. On Mars, I see them getting larger and on the Moon, they might be so large and do away with wings in favor of strong jumping legs.

Another problem is bees on centrifugal stations. Sure, there's gravity of sorts, but once they take off, they are no longer effected by the spin. So, in essence, they are in cero-gee and have to use their wings to maneuver.

Why can't the bees get smaller and more streamlined? Giant bees are just creepy. :)

swampyankee
2012-Nov-16, 02:18 PM
The bees may get bigger over generations, but they may not. I suspect what would happen is that colony size would change, but the size of the foraging bees would not change by much, as in a lower-gravity (I know, centripetal force doesn't produce gravity, but it produces an acceleration that would be indistinguishable from gravity for a bee) environment flight would take less power, so foraging bees could either travel farther or make more frequent sorties. The latter could tend to decrease colony size, as fewer foragers would be required for a colony, while the latter could increase colony size, as more resources would be available to each colony.

In a related issue, I wonder how their navigation system would work in an enclosed habitat where the light is provided by a distributed source, vs the Sun, which is, as far as the bee's visual system is concerned (a bee's visual acuity is about 1/100 that of a human [ see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19872494 ]; the human eye can resolve about 1' of arc, so a bee's resolution is about 100' of arc, or about 3 times the angular diameter of the Sun). The bees' circadian system may also be confused by the fact that the "sun" in an enclosed habitat isn't likely to move during the day.

Let's get a decent sized habitat in orbit! We need to find these things out.

galacsi
2012-Nov-16, 05:48 PM
you raise an interesting point. Many plants need bees or other insects to polinize and to bear fruits. An other problem for these fabled domes .

IsaacKuo
2012-Nov-16, 07:46 PM
Why would you want plants to be naturally pollinated and growing at random locations anyway? A plant growing in some random location is a weed, even if it might be desirable elsewhere. Lack of natural pollinators would be a feature, not a flaw. I would think you'd want robotic aeroponic nurseries instead, and then you could plant the young plants purposefully where desired.

swampyankee
2012-Nov-16, 09:29 PM
Why would you want plants to be naturally pollinated and growing at random locations anyway? A plant growing in some random location is a weed, even if it might be desirable elsewhere. Lack of natural pollinators would be a feature, not a flaw. I would think you'd want robotic aeroponic nurseries instead, and then you could plant the young plants purposefully where desired.

Most fruits and vegetables are dependent on insect pollination. A partial list is here http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/html_pubs/BEEKEEP/CHAPT8/chapt8.html Since many of these (I don't eat alfafa ;)) are rather important food crops one would want to have to maintain a balanced and varied diet.

So lack of natural pollinators is a flaw, not a feature.

ravens_cry
2012-Nov-16, 10:01 PM
If necessary, we could potentially genetically engineer the bees to work in low gravity to freefall or the plants to work without bees.
I don't see bees getting much bigger in a low gravity or freefall environment. For one, the biggest constraint insect size, getting enough oxygen, I believe would still in effect in freefall and low gravity. Insects got big in certain geologic era because of extra oxygen, not because of lower gravity. Also, they need to be small enough to get in the flowers of the plants to get at the nectar and pollen, so even if the former was not a concern, the latter would be.

IsaacKuo
2012-Nov-16, 10:07 PM
Most fruits and vegetables are dependent on insect pollination.
Only in the absense of artificial pollination.

A partial list is here http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/html_pubs/BEEKEEP/CHAPT8/chapt8.html Since many of these (I don't eat alfafa ;))

So lack of natural pollinators is a flaw, not a feature.
Machines could pollinate them instead. Like I said, robotic aeroponic nurseries would be able to cultivate young plants, which can then be planted precisely where desired.

There's nothing magical about bees. They simply physically move pollen from one place to another via mundane physical contact and motion.

swampyankee
2012-Nov-16, 11:28 PM
Only in the absense of artificial pollination.

Machines could pollinate them instead. Like I said, robotic aeroponic nurseries would be able to cultivate young plants, which can then be planted precisely where desired.

There's nothing magical about bees. They simply physically move pollen from one place to another via mundane physical contact and motion.

Since bees are off-the-shelf technology, there's no need for any kind of development project ;). As an aside, some plants, like vanilla, are commonly hand-pollinated. Bit pricey, that, even in countries where labor is incredibly cheap.

whimsyfree
2012-Nov-17, 12:29 AM
I'd agree that a human in a rotating space station could not jump in the air and hover... Even if there was no air in station, and the human was wearing a pressure suit, hovering wouldn't work.

Why it wouldn't work, becomes more apparent if you picture a mark on the "ground" (the inside wall of the space station) at the point where the astronaut was standing before he or she jumped.

From the point of view of an observer outside the space station (and not rotating with it), the astronaut inside, trying to hover, will actually (due to inertia) keep moving in a straight line at right angles to the radius of the station. The outside observer will see the mark on the wall moving in a curve, on a collision course with the straight line trajectory of the astronaut, until the astronaut collides with the mark.

From the point of view of the astronaut in the space station, the experience would be very like jumping from the surface of the Earth and coming down again to the very bit of ground you jumped up from.


You're assuming the jump is radial. What if his jump has a tangential component opposite to that imposed by the rotation of station? then (from his inertial frame of reference) the wall just speeds by underneath him while he maintains a more-or-less constant distance from it. In the absence of air that is possible but not otherwise.

Colin Robinson
2012-Nov-17, 05:02 AM
You're assuming the jump is radial. What if his jump has a tangential component opposite to that imposed by the rotation of station? then (from his inertial frame of reference) the wall just speeds by underneath him while he maintains a more-or-less constant distance from it.

Interesting point... But how fast would the space station be rotating, and could the astronaut jump fast enough to compensate?

I've just done a rough calculation, based on a design by Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley (mentioned on the WP page Rotating Space Stations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotating_wheel_space_station)). Their proposed wheel station has a diameter of 76 meters, rotates at 3 rpm, and provides an artificial gravity of one-third g.

Circumference of station = approximately 76 * 3.14 = 239 meters

Velocity at circumference = 239 meters * 3 rpm = 717 meters per minute = 43 kilometers per hour

To cancel out the tangential velocity, the astronaut's jump would therefore need to have a tangential component of 43 kilometers per hour in the opposite direction. Which is within the limits of human foot-speed, reached by Olympic athletes...


In the absence of air that is possible but not otherwise.

But in the absence of air, the astronaut would have to be wearing a pressure suit, whose extra mass would be like lead in the saddle.

Noclevername
2012-Nov-17, 06:05 AM
As an aside, some plants, like vanilla, are commonly hand-pollinated. Bit pricey, that, even in countries where labor is incredibly cheap.

Anything that goes off Earth will be pricey anyway. Given a realistic timeframe for space colonization, pollinating should be easy to automate by then-- we can probably do it with today's technology. And stations won't be growing vanilla or anything that requres a large growing space for little food value in the foreseeable future.

galacsi
2012-Nov-17, 10:52 AM
Anything that goes off Earth will be pricey anyway. Given a realistic timeframe for space colonization, pollinating should be easy to automate by then-- we can probably do it with today's technology. And stations won't be growing vanilla or anything that requres a large growing space for little food value in the foreseeable future.

For many importants plants insects pollination is mandatory.

To automatie pollination is impossible with today technology , in actual conditions ,of course .In greenhouses, the best pollinator is the bumblebee. there is also some solitary bees , I have been told.

17712

But on other hand I cannot see why swarm of bumblebees could not be transported from the surface of the earth into stations or lunar domes.This already done on earth and all the tomatoes grown in greenhouses comes from flowers fecondated by bumblebees.

It must be tried in spaceof course but I don't see any problem with reduced gravity . And giant mutating bees or bumblebees occurs only in bad SF movies ! Evolution is slow and easily manageable.

swampyankee
2012-Nov-17, 11:50 AM
Anything that goes off Earth will be pricey anyway. Given a realistic timeframe for space colonization, pollinating should be easy to automate by then-- we can probably do it with today's technology. And stations won't be growing vanilla or anything that requres a large growing space for little food value in the foreseeable future.

It would be so much easier to just use bees -- they've got the hardware, they have the software, and they produce at least one useful byproduct -- than to develop an automated system that would probably be heavier than a couple of cardboard or plastic boxes, a queen, a few workers.

Why this antipathy to using a proven solution?

Paul Wally
2012-Nov-17, 11:53 AM
Bees can make honey. Is it really necessary to have a gadget for every little thing. I call it overgadgetization. :)

IsaacKuo
2012-Nov-17, 02:21 PM
It would be so much easier to just use bees -- they've got the hardware, they have the software, and they produce at least one useful byproduct -- than to develop an automated system that would probably be heavier than a couple of cardboard or plastic boxes, a queen, a few workers.

Why this antipathy to using a proven solution?
The mass and expense of a bee based system is much more than that. Besides the mass and volume of the beehives, you've got the manpower involved in maintaining them. These beehives must also be fed and maintained constantly, regardless of the rather low demand for pollination in a space colony. Here on Earth, that's not a problem because demand over large regions of agriculture easily meets supply. On a space colony, where limited space and resources mean you don't want new trees all the time? Not so much. Life support for beehives is a drain on precious water resources*, whereas robotics just consume electricity (which is the only plentiful resource for a space colony).

An automated system could simply be an extra attachment or hand tool for utility robots which you would already have anyway, to perform various tasks. In particular, it could be a bee-shaped attachment to a quadrotor utility robot, normally used for regular scans (visual inspection for weeds, metal fatigue cracks, etc).

Now, you probably don't need human beekeepers on space colonies if the bees can be remotely cared for via remote robotics. But then, why not use the robotics directly to perform pollination?

* In addition to water, bees would also consume food and oxygen. However, I assume the food will generally be of a form unsuitable for human consumption anyway, and oxygen might be available. Oxygen may be available from orbital atmospheric scooping and/or as a byproduct of mining operations.

ShinAce
2012-Nov-17, 04:09 PM
To cancel out the tangential velocity, the astronaut's jump would therefore need to have a tangential component of 43 kilometers per hour in the opposite direction. Which is within the limits of human foot-speed, reached by Olympic athletes...



That's hilarious; mainly because I never thought of that. I'm imagining an astronaut going for a bike ride around the station, and suddenly hits 43 km/h in the wrong direction only to lose all traction! Should have gone the other way and taken advantage of the increased gravity!


The mass and expense of a bee based system is much more than that. Besides the mass and volume of the beehives, you've got the manpower involved in maintaining them.

I'm still not convinced that one will necessarily be heavier. I would imagine that bees are quite weight friendly on the launcher.

Noclevername
2012-Nov-17, 05:52 PM
Arguing against my former point, we don't know how heavy an automated pollinating system would be, or how much specialist manpower would be needed to maintain it. The more complex the machine, the more hours it spends in the repair shop and the more highly trained its repairmen must be. Beehives have the advantage of a known, simple design.

galacsi
2012-Nov-19, 01:30 PM
Arguing against my former point, we don't know how heavy an automated pollinating system would be, or how much specialist manpower would be needed to maintain it. The more complex the machine, the more hours it spends in the repair shop and the more highly trained its repairmen must be. Beehives have the advantage of a known, simple design.

Automatic and or robotic pollinating systems have been tried. There has been vibrating system for auto pollinating plants like tomatoes but it does not works and it is extremely expensive.You have to understand the extreme complexity or the pollinating process , it must done at an exact time , when the flower is ready , not before and not after , in an exact way , not too hard not too soft . It must be done flower by flower , several times but not too much and so on and so on . No robot can do that and even human beings have a hard time doing it . Bumblebees or honey bees are the cheap and tried solution invented by the evolution.

IsaacKuo
2012-Nov-19, 08:57 PM
Automatic and or robotic pollinating systems have been tried. There has been vibrating system for auto pollinating plants like tomatoes but it does not works and it is extremely expensive.You have to understand the extreme complexity or the pollinating process , it must done at an exact time , when the flower is ready , not before and not after , in an exact way , not too hard not too soft . It must be done flower by flower , several times but not too much and so on and so on . No robot can do that and even human beings have a hard time doing it . Bumblebees or honey bees are the cheap and tried solution invented by the evolution.

As I noted, they're not cheap in a space colony. They incur a constant drain on life support--in particular water generation--for a severely limited demand activity.

As for the supposed difficulty of emulating bee pollination--bees do not do anything magical. Bees do not have magical abilities to detect when a flower is ready. The flowers tell the bees they're ready via visual display. Bees simply home in on those displays, which are easy to see using low resolution color vision. The relevant color vision sensors include a UV range outside the human visible range, but this doesn't matter to robotics--whether automated or operated remotely by humans on Earth.

IsaacKuo
2012-Nov-19, 09:09 PM
I'm still not convinced that one will necessarily be heavier. I would imagine that bees are quite weight friendly on the launcher.
That's a bit like noting that a tree seed is weight friendly on the launcher. The seed may be small and light, but not the soil and water and air required to grow it into a fully grown tree. For an orbital space colony, this is obviously a big deal. For a lunar colony, things depend on what sort of resources may be available and how cheap they are.

Like I said, oxygen might be generally available as a side product of mining. But the other elements required for a growing biosphere, such as carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen may still be lacking. Also, other elements may not be in nutrient forms readily absorbed by the plants.

publiusr
2012-Nov-19, 11:47 PM
I wonder what may become of these advances
http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/11/artificial-ion-channels-have-been-made.html
http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nnano.2012.189.html

Now here is a question. Since this is DNA based, what is the likely hood of crafting life that feeds on radio waves instead of light? Or that communicate with radio waves with an electric eel organ and antennas?

Swift
2012-Nov-20, 02:34 AM
I wonder what may become of these advances
http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/11/artificial-ion-channels-have-been-made.html
http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nnano.2012.189.html

Now here is a question. Since this is DNA based, what is the likely hood of crafting life that feeds on radio waves instead of light? Or that communicate with radio waves with an electric eel organ and antennas?
This is completely off topic and your links are undescribed. If you want to discuss such topics, please start your own thread and do not derail this one.

galacsi
2012-Nov-20, 08:11 AM
As I noted, they're not cheap in a space colony. They incur a constant drain on life support--in particular water generation--for a severely limited demand activity.



Sorrry to desagree again , but i think you are wrong on this also. A bumblebee swarm is not a big drain on a space colony , they don't use much water and usualy don't need to be fed ; they do it themself. Because that what they are doing when pollinating ! they are just collecting nectar from flowers. If your space colony is big enough you will nead a steady flow of fresh fruits and vegetables and your pollinators will be always busy.No need to feed them like apicultors do on earth when they take all the honey and have to feed the bees with syrup.

IsaacKuo
2012-Nov-20, 10:05 AM
Sorrry to desagree again , but i think you are wrong on this also. A bumblebee swarm is not a big drain on a space colony , they don't use much water and usualy don't need to be fed ; they do it themself. Because that what they are doing when pollinating ! they are just collecting nectar from flowers. If your space colony is big enough you will nead a steady flow of fresh fruits and vegetables and your pollinators will be always busy.No need to feed them like apicultors do on earth when they take all the honey and have to feed the bees with syrup.
The nectar is mostly water, which could be recycled directly into drinking/cooking water instead of wasted on bees.

Various vegetables don't require pollinators (such as beans and tubers).

Still, you're right that a colony which is big enough would probably want to have a wider variety of foods. I imagine that such a colony would be far into the future, though. By then, quadrotors and other small robots will be even smaller and cheaper than they are now. Such a large colony would surely have an army of such utility robots for inspection/maintenance purposes; fruit pollination could simply be a side job for them, when they're not weeding/inspecting/hunting pests. There's also the possibility of using ISRU for resources rather than bringing everything from Earth. Considering future capabilities of 3D printers, it's plausible that future space colonists could manufacture robots from the metal/mineral rich resources available (unfortunately, lunar and other inner system resources tend to be volatile poor and hydrogen/water poor in particular).

Until then, I think that efficient staple crops will be more important than desire for food variety. In particular, wind-pollinated grains such as wheat, rice, and/or corn are compellingly efficient, staple tubers such as potatoes may be cultivated without pollination, and self-pollinating beans such as soybeans are plausibly the most important source of protein.

swampyankee
2012-Nov-20, 11:08 AM
The most efficient food crops would probably be algae and pond plants, like duckweed.

Again, I fail to understand the antipathy to use of a proven, maintenance-free system which would place minimal loads upon the system. Assuming bees (average mass: 0.1 g) place the same loads/unit mass as do humans, with an average mass of 78 kg, one person would have about the same environmental system impact as 780,000 bees. Bee colonies have about 70,000 members (http://www.backyardbeekeepers.com/facts.html), so that's 10 or 11 colonies. Each colony would visit about 300,000,000 flowers/year. Certainly self-fertilizing and wind-pollinated (and how much load would that place on the ECS?) plants could be used, until some visitor walks in with a virulent disease to which the cloned food plant population has no resistance.

Noclevername
2012-Nov-20, 11:10 AM
The nectar is mostly water, which could be recycled directly into drinking/cooking water instead of wasted on bees.


Any water the bees "waste" will eventually get recycled into the ecosystem anyway. And humans don't drink nectar, but they do eat honey, which is much more efficient to produce with bees than with robots. Beeswax, which has various uses, is also a product.


Until then, I think that efficient staple crops will be more important than desire for food variety. In particular, wind-pollinated grains such as wheat, rice, and/or corn are compellingly efficient, staple tubers such as potatoes may be cultivated without pollination, and self-pollinating beans such as soybeans are plausibly the most important source of protein.

Humans crave variety. Supporting a few hives is surely going to be less expensive for space dwellers than importing luxury fruits and vegetables.

IsaacKuo
2012-Nov-20, 12:31 PM
The most efficient food crops would probably be algae and pond plants, like duckweed.
Unfortunately, algae and pond plants require lots of water. For a space colony, water efficiency is more important than energy efficiency. Think of space as a desert which enjoys cloudless sunlight 24/7.

Things are different here on Earth, where water isn't so precious--especially if sea water species are involved. But for a space colony, water is precious.

Again, I fail to understand the antipathy to use of a proven, maintenance-free system which would place minimal loads upon the system. Assuming bees (average mass: 0.1 g) place the same loads/unit mass as do humans, with an average mass of 78 kg, one person would have about the same environmental system impact as 780,000 bees.
It's not linear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleiber's_law

But in any case, one person's life support is a rather high price to consider paying.

Bee colonies have about 70,000 members (http://www.backyardbeekeepers.com/facts.html), so that's 10 or 11 colonies. Each colony would visit about 300,000,000 flowers/year. Certainly self-fertilizing and wind-pollinated (and how much load would that place on the ECS?) plants could be used, until some visitor walks in with a virulent disease to which the cloned food plant population has no resistance.
Disease would be a greater risk to bees, and bees themselves can be a risk to distributing disease.

One of the many nice things about aeroponics is disease resistance thanks to physical separation of the plants. This may be compromised if there are insects flying around and landing on them. (Utility robots can be programmed to avoid or minimize contact, and they can regularly sterilize themselves with radiation or vacuum or other means which are not practical for bees.)

IsaacKuo
2012-Nov-20, 12:54 PM
Any water the bees "waste" will eventually get recycled into the ecosystem anyway.
The same can be said of water here on Earth, but the fact is that water resource limitations are still important--to the point of being matters of life and death, regularly.

On a space colony, water resource limitations will be even more important.

And humans don't drink nectar, but they do eat honey, which is much more efficient to produce with bees than with robots. Beeswax, which has various uses, is also a product.
Honey would be an incredibly inefficient luxury item, much like maple syrup. Either is essentially extremely water intensive to produce. Beeswax would similarly be an incredibly inefficient luxury item.

Nectar could be directly mixed in with potable water with no ill effects, thus using it without going through water cycle processing hardware.

Humans crave variety. Supporting a few hives is surely going to be less expensive for space dwellers than importing luxury fruits and vegetables.
In the foreseeable future, luxury fruits and vegetables will be expensive dehydrated imports. Currently, all food on the ISS is imported, and if dehydrated food quality does not greatly improve, these items will actually not be all too desirable compared to fresh grown staples. There's an incredible variety of foods which can be prepared from potatoes and soybeans. Once fresh food is available, thanks to aeroponics, the more important imports will be spices. Spices combined with fresh staples beats (current) dehydrated fruits and vegetables.

That said, some staple foods require incredible amounts of water to prepare. For example, high quality tofu uses a lot of fresh water to prepare.

Noclevername
2012-Nov-20, 05:29 PM
I don't understand why you think no one will have water. Any colony with humans will have to have substantial amounts of water, otherwise people won't bother to live there full time. No one wants to spend years under strict cup-a-day water rationing. Since water is a vital resource, it will be one of the few things worth importing in bulk even at great cost. And once it's in the system, losses will be minimized by neccessity. A space habitat cannot be a desert if you want it to be an effective place to live.

Since water is available in substatial amounts on the Moon, it need not even be lifted from Earth after the first ice mine is established (which will likely be before the first independent space habitat). Moons, comets and dwarf planets containing or mostly made of water ice also exist, some accessible at lower delta-V than an Earth launch. It's also useful to crack water for rocket fuel and fuel cells. Water, in large amounts, will probably be the basis for almost all early space trade and industry. No, scratch "early", it will always be useful and necessary for any space endeavor involving people.


In the foreseeable future...

If we're talking about space habitats that are large enough to have an ecosystem rather than a Habitrail with food deliveries from Earth, we're not talking about the foreseeable future. We're talking about a future when space launches have considerably cheapened up and/or space infrastructure has begun.

swampyankee
2012-Nov-20, 11:47 PM
Unfortunately, algae and pond plants require lots of water. For a space colony, water efficiency is more important than energy efficiency. Think of space as a desert which enjoys cloudless sunlight 24/7.

Things are different here on Earth, where water isn't so precious--especially if sea water species are involved. But for a space colony, water is precious.

It's not linear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleiber's_law

But in any case, one person's life support is a rather high price to consider paying.



We're not discussing something like ISS or even something like the size of QE2; the OP specified a habitat with park-like vistas. The likely population of such habitat would be in the hundreds. In any case, any long-term sustained habitat will need to have sufficient margin for accidents, such as fire (Moro Castle was thought fireproof), sabotage, or a surge of tourists. It wouldn't be one person's life support; it would be a small percentage of the reserve.



Disease would be a greater risk to bees, and bees themselves can be a risk to distributing disease.

One of the many nice things about aeroponics is disease resistance thanks to physical separation of the plants. This may be compromised if there are insects flying around and landing on them. (Utility robots can be programmed to avoid or minimize contact, and they can regularly sterilize themselves with radiation or vacuum or other means which are not practical for bees.)

Aeroponics (and hydroponics) would be useful for much of the food production, but it's not the park-like vistas of the OP's post. In any case, the two are not mutually exclusive, so a large enough habitat, probably a few tens of millions of cubic meters, psychological factors would dictate at least some open, park-like spaces. Wouldn't hurt to throw in a few flowers ;)

eburacum45
2012-Nov-20, 11:57 PM
I would imagine that bees are quite weight friendly on the launcher.
Especially if you get them to fly during take-off -
then they don't weigh anything at all.


No, wait...