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The concept of a dyson tree is a genetically engineered plant that can exist in vacuum conditions, and uses the raw materials found in extraterrestrial regolith (I.e. comets, asteroids etc) to produce oxygen and water. This is contained within a sealed chamber that can harbour astronauts and space colonists, so that the tree functions, effectively, as a living space colony.

It occurred to me that a similar life form could be used in terraforming mars or other planets assuming water is already present; they could create an oxygen atmosphere without needing oxygen themselves, and so could provide the basis for other, aerobic life forms.

However, i cannot find any specifics as to how such a life-form could work, so my question is: what biology would a plant need to survive without oxygen or co2, while still producing oxygen?

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    $\begingroup$ Why do you call this machine a plant? It surely does not work in a way even remotely similar to plants. Plants use the energy of light to combine carbon dioxide with water to make sugars, with oxygen as a waste product; the machine described in the question shows no similarity to what a plant does. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ The reason you can't find the specifics about how it would work is that the science fiction writers who came up with them, chose to handwave over the explanation in order to focus on the compelling stories such a tree would enable. At most they created enough convincing sounding technobabble to make any plot points seem consistent. How do you expect us to be able to answer this question in any level of detail without just making things up ourselves. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 21:44

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They are not without CO2

Since you mention comets as a major source of raw materials for these plants, they would by definition have readily available CO2. In fact, the 2 main ingredients in a comet are H2O and CO2; so, if they are gathering up comets, then they will naturally tend to store collected water, and create Oxygen as a natural biproduct of photosynthesis.

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Your tree strips hydrogen from H2O and hydrogenates aromatic carbon to alkanes. Oxygen is the waste product.

WHat is available in a comet?

https://sites.google.com/site/cosmopier/palaeometeorstream/comet-s-chemical-composition

According to analysis of the spectra of Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005 reveals the IR signatures of a host of amorphous and crystalline inorganic powders. Included are minerals such as magnesium-rich forsterite and iron-rich fayalite (both in the olivine family); ferrosilite, an iron-rich pyroxene; and nontronite, a smectite clay containing iron, aluminum, and sodium. The spectra also feature telltale signs of other minerals, amorphous carbon, water ice, sulfides, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

The reduction of benzene (aromatic carbon) is exothermic is exothermic but does not yield as much energy as splitting the water requires, so the tree will have to use exogenous energy inputs like solar energy to make that happen. The alkanes produced are extremely long chains and are used to make the body of the tree: polyethylene plastics.

You will also need some regular plants because your astronauts immoderately exhale CO2 which will accumulate. The Dyson tree does not deal with oxidized carbon.

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