Mars soil can be used to grow ten crop species in a gardening experiment.

After carrying out extensive experiments using simulated Mars soil and Moon soils from NASA and comparing their yields with plants that were grown from compost from Earth, scientists at Wageningen UR (University & Research centre), The Netherlands concluded that Mars soil has the potential for growing ten crop species. The scientists were able to grow tomatoes, tomato, garden rockets, rye and radish almost like they had grown them on Earth’s potting soil. Ridley Scott could make The Martian Movie. This movie stars Matt Damon as Matt Damon, and features a martian astronaut who uses his botanical skills to grow potatoes on Red Planet. He then survives. This fictional tale could be made a reality. Wageningen University said: “The ecologist [Dr. Wamelink] questions whether these fruits and plants are safe for human consumption. It is important to ask this question because the lunar and Martian soils are rich in heavy metals like arsenic, lead and cadmium. It is not known if the plants have any trace of poisonous substances. (Image: Wageningen Ur) Dr Wieger Wamelink is the head of University’s Mars Moon Plant Growth Experiment. He stated that the experiment was designed to test whether or not it is feasible to plant crops on Mars and the Moon to provide food for the pioneer settlers and astronauts. Researchers have improved their first experiment by using trays and pots. Artist’s rendition of the greenhouse that can grow vegetables on Mars. NASA and other agencies could eventually build them underground. Image: Dr. Wamelink described that they used large trays and organic material to simulate the Moon soil. Crop growth was significantly improved after adding the Moon soil simulant to the mixture. The majority of plants died in the original Moon soil experiment, but they thrived in this latest one. The scientists managed to harvest the exact same species from this experiment as the Mars soil simulant. Amazing potential. Although the total vegetable mass (biomass), from the Mars soil simulant crops was less than that of the Earth control, it was still significantly lower than the Earth control. It was minimal. One tray had less growth. Their results were astonishingly impressive for the researchers. The results they achieved make future Mars missions more possible, as most of the food astronauts will eat will have been grown there. Artist’s rendering showing a Mars human base with an opening that reveals an underground horticultural zone. Underground cultivation would provide better protection for the crops than the harsh environment of the surface. Image: Wikipedia. Dr. Wamelink stated that their findings were a surprise. This shows the Mars soil simulant’s great potential if properly prepared and hydrated. About half the biomass was produced on the simulant moon soil. The spinach was the only vegetable that showed low biomass production. Scientists didn’t eat any of the ten edible plants. They used simulated soils with high levels of lead, mercury and arsenic. These elements are extremely toxic for humans. These components could make the fruit toxic if they are made available to the plants. Dr. Wamelink stated that further research is needed to determine if these components are safe for the plants. A crowdfunding campaign was launched to fund the third study that will focus on food safety. The experiment should start in April 2016 with the growth of a new batch of crops including potatoes and beans.” “If the crops prove to be safe enough to eat, the funders will be invited for dinner where a ‘Martian meal’ will be served that includes the harvested crops; at least for those who dare!.” Garden cress on #moon earth #Mars soil simulant in my window ledge still growing strong — Wieger Wamelink (@wamelink_wieger) February 24, 2016 The soil experiment The soil experiment started in April 2015, with the final harvest occurring in October. Ten crop varieties were grown in soil trays that contained either Moon simulant or Mars soil, along with Earth potting compost. The final harvest was held in October. These ten varieties were: tomato, chives and quinoa. In a greenhouse, light, temperature, humidity, and temperature were maintained constants. The glasshouse was also controlled by Earth’s atmosphere. The Moon’s human colony would need to be able to produce some local food. It would however be cheaper and easier to get food supplies from Mars than the Moon, as the Moon is closer to Earth. The researchers explain that plants are grown underground to shield them from cosmic radiation and hostile environments on Mars when humans arrive on Earth. The scientists tested simulants of Mars and Moon soils provided by NASA (America’s space agency). They were said to closely replicate the Earth and Moon soils. While the Moon soil simulant is derived from Arizona, the Mars simulant was sourced from a volcano in Hawaii. The fruits of their labor After spending a day exploring the dusty, dry surface of Mars one can only imagine the delicious taste of freshly baked potatoes and steamed carrots to an exhausted astronaut. Not only would homegrown foods be an excellent alternative to frozen space food but also they could provide food for exploration teams and settlers who may stay on Mars for many years. NASA’s Space Life Sciences Laboratory, Florida has scientists working to design greenhouses that can grow vegetables. It will take 18 months to complete a Mars mission. A long mission will require food that is more than the spacecraft can carry. It is easy to transport vegetable seeds – you can germinate them in space, and then plant them on Mars or under Mars when your spacecraft arrives. Both sides of the Atlantic have been working together to develop a method for growing vegetables on other moons and planets. Video: Can plants be grown on Mars? This video was made before the Dutch experiment.


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