• Question: if we planted trees on another planet could they produce oxegen so we can live there?

    Asked by cjay_is_not_here to Simon, Julia, Delma, Andrew, Alex on 10 Dec 2015.
    • Photo: Delma Childers

      Delma Childers answered on 10 Dec 2015:

      Great question! There are a couple of things we need for the trees to survive first. They need good soil, rich in nutrients, and plentiful water. The planet needs an atmosphere containing some carbon dioxide and oxygen. And the temperature needs to be just right. As long as we meet the basic requirements the trees have to live, then sure, they could produce oxygen on a new planet. It’d be some time before we could move in, though. 😀

    • Photo: Andrew Winnard

      Andrew Winnard answered on 10 Dec 2015:

      Like Delma said, provided you have all the right conditions then yes we could grow some trees which could produce oxygen and remove CO2. You would also need plenty of sunlight for the photosynthesis to take place as well. Finally, you would probably need quite a lot of trees over a large portion of the surface. Planting that many trees would take a long time! There probably are not enough trees on Earth to take enough with and leave enough behind so as not to damage Earths environment too. So you might be better taking seeds, but then it will also take a few years to grow.

      So its not a bad idea, might just take some time – you would also be best starting small, maybe building some trees in a biodome first 🙂

    • Photo: Alexander Finch

      Alexander Finch answered on 11 Dec 2015:

      I think Andrew and Delma answer it perfectly!

      Trees are quite picky about where they grow – if you took an acorn and put it in Iceland or India, it probably wouldn’t make an oak tree!

      But using plants to change the atmosphere – a part of terraforming – is a very good idea! You’d use simple, tough plants like mosses and lichens and algae first, as these are tough creatures than can grow anywhere.

      Once they’ve done the initial hard work, then you can bring grasses, bushes and trees – and animals and humans!