As the talk about NASA’s trip to Mars increases, scientists have started to prepare for one of the most basic need of the Astronauts embarking on this long journey and that is food. Experts are trying to determine if they can grow food on the Martian surface.
NASA and Kennedy Space Center have been working on an artificial garden which emulates the conditions on the Red Planet to find out if it’s possible to grow vegetables on Mars. Food is going to be a crucial factor during the long trip as well as the stay on the Red Planet along with water and oxygen. Growing plants on Mars will be a significant solution to all three requirements of the Astronauts in this mission.
The space agency is trying to learn how to grow plants in extreme conditions so that the diet of astronauts can be supplemented. Gardening and space plant biology can have a number of benefits in the form spin-offs from the research.
Researchers have used Hawaiian soil as a base soil because it resembles a lot with the Martian soil. Other elements were added to make it similar to the soil on the Red Planet. The experiment was carried out in three different settings, one in simple condition, other with nutrients added to the soil and the third in potting soil. Lettuce was grown on all the three types of soils. The lettuce which grew in the soil most akin to Martian soil was found to have weaker roots and lower germination rate. Thus it showed how growing plants on the Mars would be different from what we see on Earth.
Experts are mostly interested in trying to grow vegetables like Radish, Kale, Peas, Cabbage, and Tomatoes on the Red Planet. The study is being conducted by NASA in partnership with and Florida Tech Institute in June 2016, and the preparation for the investigation begun in September.
Mars is covered mostly with soil devoid of any organic components which allow plants to grow and live. The Martian soil is mostly bare minerals and volcanic rocks. Therefore, the latest study and research will provide a tool for future research.