So - building materials, maybe some robots to do the heavy lifting, perhaps some books to read in the lonely nights...but let's not forget the basics! Oxygen, clean water, food to eat - and that means PLANTS!
I was intrigued to come across and article announcing the European Space Agency's shortlist of "Champion Plants" to take to outer space. A lot of different factors had been considered, including ease of cultivation (especially in zero-gravity, soil free conditions!), nutritional quality, time to yield, and the amount of processing required...take a moment to think about what you would take, then see how your choices compare!
The ESA's Top 10 Plants for Galactic Pioneers:
1. Soybean - rich in protein and oil which can be made into other products, including soy sauce and fuel.
2. Potato - one of the highest-yielding crops per square metre providing large amounts of carbohydrate but also protein and vitamin C.
3. Rice - another important staple food crop. Dryland rice would be preferred over paddy-field varieties for space travel.
4. Soft White Wheat - for a variety of foodstuffs, including bread, cereals, pasta and couscous.
5. Tomatoes - a fast growing and vitamin rich foodstuff, especially new GM varieties with enhanced levels of beneficial compounds.
6. Spinach - another fast growing, highly nutritious food that can be eaten raw or lightly cooked.
7. Lettuce - fast growing with little waste, plus it brings a bit of "freshness" to the table!
8. Beetroot - sweet, nutritious and filling.
9. Spirulina - this micro-alga, although not very appetising, is protein rich and could efficiently produce oxygen from the waste carbon dioxide from pioneering astronauts.
10. Onion - this would help to liven up dull, dehydrated meals due to their stimulating effect on the central nervous system.
* Click here for more about NASAs Mars Colony Plans
This post was based on an article in the Daily Telegraph Weekend Section on Saturday 29th December