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A group of scientists travels to a newly discovered planet shown to support life in the form of plants and animals. Obviously they can only bring so much food with them so at some point they would need to support their own dietary needs. Certainly they would bring along equipment for their research. I have seen other posts that reframe the problem as traveling to a different Era on earth, say a few million years ago, to replicate the problem more localy, and have seen some of the discussion on the potential incompatibility with alien protein. Depending on what you need to overlook the interstelar or Time travel element of this thought experiment and still treat the core of the question as rooted in hard science, the whole point is digestability of plant and animal material.

Is it possible to bring along something like spirulina to grow and sustain you over time? Is it plausible or even theoretically possible to sample the gut biome of local critters and come up with some kind of transplant that might overcome some of these issues?

For some clarity, the following posts talk about some of the issues around trying to sustain a group in a totally alien biome:

Would humans be able to derive nutrition from foodstuffs found on alien planets?

What supplies would colonist need to take to another planet

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    $\begingroup$ Please fix the title to "planet" instead of "plant" - without opening the question it sounds like the researchers are living on a big plant and must make it edible. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2023 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ There must be more to this question, because at first sight it is much too trivial. If the planet has light and water they can obviously grow their own food from the seeds they brought with them; whether they need a sealed greenhouse or not depends on the story you want to tell. See the famous documentary The Martian showing how one could grow one's own food even on a lifeless planet like Mars. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 12, 2023 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ how long are they staying and how many people, a couple years of stored food would take up less space then the stuff you need to grow it. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Nov 12, 2023 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ @John. I am thinking 8 to 10 people for let's say 5 years. Resupply is certainly an option but if the team is going to rely on it and something goes wrong then they are in bad trouble. I don't have a good concept of how much weight or space it would require to take that much food along, and the other good point is that if they are spending all this time working on subsistence then that takes away from their work unless it's something they have already been maintaining like hydroponics. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2023 at 23:42
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like all the more reason to rely on stored food, recycle water but just use stored food. like you said the more time the spend growing food the less time they spend researching. If you want a minor food production as a side project that could easily be part of research for colonization. for scale the food storage on a nuclear sub could carry enough food for your researches for 15 years of a high calorie high quality diet. interestingengineering.com/video/… $\endgroup$
    – John
    Nov 13, 2023 at 1:21

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Exactly what happens on your world is impossible to say with any accuracy as we only have one example of life to work with, so you have wide latitude. That said some observations can be made.

The more Earth like the planet the more Earth like the biochemistry of the ecosystem, but only to a point as there are so many ways that chemistry can be different. You assume that there would be protein, there might well be, but would the same amino acids be present in the same proportions, would the genetic code be the same and would the same sugars and bases be used in the same way?

We can’t know for sure and slight differences and random effects could easily upset the apple cart. The local life might range from a tasty snack to indigestible rubbish to toxic organic chemicals. To illustrate the scope of what you are asking look here (have a look around using your arrow keys left/right up/down): http://biochemical-pathways.com/#/map/1

Imagine this rewritten from scratch with billions of years of evolution involving all manner of randomizing events and effects. Chances are it would look different, how different is hard to say.

The colonists would almost certainly want to start out in a completely sealed environment – as if they were on Mars - growing their own food and having no direct contact with the outside world. After a long period of study, they might be able to live outside, or they might not, that depends on the story you want to tell although I suspect there would be problems at some level. It would be easy to come up with all sorts of complications.

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Whatever their form of hydroponics takes would be part of their mission equipment as a matter of course. They might supplement it with their version of vitamin pills but they'd need some sort of sustainable food supply if they can't get resupplied.

Another option is just to keep resupplying them periodically. Or a combination of both.

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For a small number of people stored food is a better option. growing food takes a lot pf labor, especially a large enough variety of foods to keep humans productive. They might be producing a single staple crop as both an experiment and supplement for fresh food but most of their food should be stored. This also means your people are spending most of their time doing what you want them to do, not growing food. researchers are very different from colonizers, ideally your researchers should leave the planet with as little impact on it as possible.

Use nasa as an example, water should be recycled but food should be stored, much of it could be dried but there is not much need to do this unless you really want to make weight an issue. a mix of dried, canned, and frozen food will work well. This also means a large variety will be available, ideal for keeping your people productive. Productivity is important a monotonous unappealing diets make for poor moral and unproductive workers.

For scale the storage on a US nuclear submarine (considered to have some of the best food in the military) carries 15000lbs of food in a not very large area. with 8-10 people something similar could store enough food for 15 years with a high quality diet. A resupply every few years could keep them well fed with no issue.

you could have the majority of their living space packed with food on arrival that then needs to be moved into modular storage.

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Adult humans are able to survive without any protein for some time. Only eating carbohydrates and fatty acids - both of these can be quite easily synthesized chemically or separated from local sources. Amino acids and proteins could be synthesized/separated too but it's much more difficult.

They also require small amount of salts and vitamins which they can easily take with them.

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Obliteration. Something has to eat sun and carbondioxide. It may be poisonous and full of heavy metall. But something on earth can eat it. Rats and roaches. And they take the brunt. Now filter out the toxic parts and feed the remains to pigs. And so forth. Life wears all defenses down. At some point in the food pyramid eating it becomes viable.

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