Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ten crops have been grown in Mars-equivalent soil


Mark O'Beirne

Researchers have succeeded in growing ten crops in soil that mimicks the soil found on Mars, indicating there may be hope for growing food on the planet.

It may be easier to survive if stranded on Mars than The Martian made out, it seems. Researchers have succeeded in growing ten crops in soil that mimics conditions on the Red Planet.

The researchers managed to grow tomato, rye, radish, pea, leek, spinach, garden rocket, cress, quinoa, and chives in the soil, so future inhabitants may have some tasty and nutritious salads to look forward to.

Lead researcher Wieger Wamelink from Wageningen University & Research centre in the Netherlands said, "The production of biomass on the Mars soil simulant was lower than on Earth control, but it was a minor difference and caused by one of the trays that showed less growth.”

"That was a real surprise to us. It shows that the Mars soil simulant has great potential when properly prepared and watered."

The researchers also managed to grow the same batch of crops in soil that mimicked Moon soil.

However, those with green fingers shouldn’t pack their bags just yet. It was just the soil that was mimicked rather than the rest of the conditions; the crops were grown in a a glass house under Earth's atmosphere, with stable humidity, light, and temperature.

Wamelik explained, "We expect that first crop growth on Mars and Moon will take place in underground rooms to protect the plants from the hostile environment."

And people haven’t eaten the produce just yet, so we’ve no idea if it’s even safe to do so just yet. Expect more experiments to be conducted in the coming months.

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