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#SC15HACK Team: Star Soils – Soil Genesis to Support Long-Term Human Space Exploration and Colonization

26 Sep 2015, 19:05 UTC
#SC15HACK Team: Star Soils – Soil Genesis to Support Long-Term Human Space Exploration and Colonization
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Barret Wessel, Chris Mooney, University of Maryland, Department of Environmental Science and Technology, College Park, MD 20742Nathan Morrison, Sustainable Now Technologies, Signal Hill, CA 90755Rachel Armstrong, Professor of Experimental Architecture at Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 7RU, United Kingdom
Terrestrial soils can be thought of as semi-living systems, neither alive nor dead but possessing many of the attributes of living organisms (Lin 2014). These dynamic, well-managed soils provide many ecosystem services to support life on Earth. These services can be grouped into 6 categories: (1) soils serve as a medium for plant growth, (2) soils recycle nutrients and organic matter, (3) soils modify the atmosphere through gas exchange, (4) soils store and purify water, (5) soils serve as habitat for soil organisms, and (6) soils serve as an engineering medium (Brady and Weil 2010). The first four of these functions are of obvious use in supporting human life on starships and colonies. Soil organisms serve as a genetic “bank” of diversity, and may provide future explorers with the raw materials to create new medicines or bioengineered organisms for the purposes of ecopoiesis. A handful of soil contains billions of organisms representing a staggering diversity of natural ...

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